Adjuvant medical treatment for breast cancer in elderly and old women
The probability of developing breast cancer increases with age. Therefore, more than 50 % of women with breast cancer are older than 65 years at the time of diagnosis. However, elderly patients are often undertreated and clinical trials for elderly patients in the adjuvant setting are lacking. Elderly patients who are otherwise fit should receive the standard treatment regimen independent of age.
Endocrine therapy should not be withheld from patients by age alone. Thus, there are more adverse events in the elderly population.
The decision on adjuvant chemotherapy should be made taking into consideration the patient’s comorbidities and frailty. A less toxic single-agent regimen may influence overall survival, but are associated with much less toxicity. Trastuzumab has a similar effect in elderly patients to that in younger patients. The risk of cardiotoxicity should be carefully considered in each patient.