Mammography Screening and Treatment of Breast Cancer in the Elderly

Matti Aapro
Breast Care 2008, 3 (3): 177-182
Breast cancer patients of an advanced age will suffer from ailments related to both senescence and cancer. Some will have been denied access to screening programmes and will present with an advanced disease. Many will need the expertise of the geriatrician and the oncologist who will participate in specific case discussions to look at social and medical issues that will affect the treatment plan (with questions regarding surgery, radiation, drug therapy, rehabilitation, supportive care, and palliative care often intertwined). This paper reviews recommendations by the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG) task force which recently assessed the available evidence on breast cancer in elderly individuals, and provided evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in such individuals. Recommendations on the topics of screening, surgery, radiotherapy, (neo)adjuvant hormone treatment, and chemotherapy, and on metastatic disease have been given. Oncologists are now learning to take into account the physiological age of their patient, which is the reflection of a normal and sometimes abnormally accelerated loss of body reserves which is certainly related to chronological age but not precisely dictated by it. Understanding the biology of breast cancer will allow to optimally adapt the treatment of the elderly patient.

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