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The need for targeted research into breast cancer in the elderly. BJS 2003; 90: 388-399.

Published: 31st March 2003

Authors: L. Wyld, M. W. R. Reed

Background

Breast cancer is a major source of morbidity and mortality in elderly women. Despite this, many trials on which clinical practice is based have under‐represented the elderly. Consequently there is little evidence to guide best practice in this age group.

Method

A search of the major literature databases was performed using the search terms ‘breast cancer’ and ‘elderly’. Articles relevant to the treatment of breast cancer in the elderly were selected.

Results

The elderly receive less aggressive treatment for breast cancer compared with younger patients. Primary endocrine therapy is sometimes substituted for operation, and axillary surgery, adjuvant chemotherapy and adjuvant radiotherapy are commonly omitted. Evidence for and against such treatment strategies is inadequate, making it difficult to determine what constitutes best practice.

Conclusion

There is a need for research to be targeted at the older age group of patients with breast cancer to enable the development of specific treatment guidelines. Copyright © 2003 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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