Breast Cancer Age Does Not Affect Treatment

Armen Hareyan's picture

It was long known that younger women with common form of breast cancer have higher risk for the disease recurrence than older patients. However, the new research from the Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center shows that with adequate treatment women of all ages have equal chances to be cured of breast cancer.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the most common form of early stage breast cancer. It occurs in milk ducts and is not being spread quickly. The disease is usually being treated by breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), which is the breast removal procedure. Then the entire breast is being exposed to aggressive radiation in order to cut the risk for recurrence. The patients who are at higher risk of breast cancer also take tamoxifen drug after the radiation or radiation boost close to tumor affected tissue.

According to American Cancer Society statistics, there are about 62000 newly diagnosed DCIS cases in US, which is the most widespread form of noninvasive breast cancer.


A team of researchers from the Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center examined the data of 440 DCIS patients who have been receiving breast cancer treatment in this center during the period between 1978 and 2007. Twenty four patients were younger than 40 and the others were between the ages of 50 and 60.

Just after breast-conserving surgery breast tissues of all patients were examined to see if there is need in further surgery. Second surgery (surgical re-excision) was performed in 75% of younger patients, compared with 62% of older patients. All patients were then exposed to entire breast radiation and 95% of them was exposed to radiation boost.

Patients were followed from 0.2 to 24 years after receiving treatment. The risk for recurrence of breast cancer was estimated for 10 and 15 year long periods. The recurrence risk was found to be 7% for a 10 year period and 8% for 15 years. The risk is equal for all patients despite of age, tumor status, and tamoxifen drug usage.

According to Punchng at least one expert has applauded the new stud. “They have debunked the commonly held belief that age alone is a risk factor for recurrence after treatment of DCIS,” said Dr. Ann Partridge, a medical oncologist and researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston

The study also shows that the current DCIS therapy is good and it significantly cuts the breast cancer recurrence risk, otherwise this early stage disease could turn into invasive cancer. However, researchers mention that more researches need to be done, because this included a very small number of young breast cancer patients and these figures are not statistically significant. Right now the research needs more data.


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