Older Breast Cancer Patients Defy Survival Models

“Older women with early-stage, invasive breast cancer had better survival rates than what was estimated by a popular online tool for predicting survival, according to researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute.

“The finding provides a stronger rationale for women over the age of 70 — even those who have additional minor health concerns — to undergo aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy to prevent their cancer from returning.

“ ‘When making decisions about whether or not to use potentially toxic preventive chemotherapy for breast cancer in older women, patients and doctors debate what they should do,’ said Gretchen Kimmick, M.D., M.S., an associate professor of medicine at Duke who is presenting the study findings at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. ‘This predictive model can help us show patients that they are going to survive long enough to see the benefit of treatment.’ “