Clinical Medicine Insights: Oncology 2015:9 65-73
Published on 24 Aug 2015
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As the overall population ages, the proportion of elderly patients (aged ≥65 years) with breast cancer also increases. Studies have shown that elderly patients with hormone receptor–positive breast cancer can derive as much benefit from treatment as do younger patients, yet they remain underrepresented in clinical trials and are often undertreated in clinical practice. Treatment decisions for older patients should not be based solely on chronologic age; a patient's physiologic functioning and comorbidities must also be taken into consideration. For recurrent or metastatic disease, systemic treatment with endocrine therapies or chemotherapy may prolong a patient's life and alleviate troublesome symptoms. Resistance to therapy remains a problem in the advanced breast cancer setting, with most patients eventually becoming resistant to additional treatment. New combination regimens that target multiple pathways, such as everolimus plus exemestane, have shown efficacy in elderly patients previously resistant to endocrine therapies, and future research may need to focus on such combinations in order to improve outcomes in this patient group. A number of investigational agents are in clinical development, although few studies identify their effects in the elderly patient population. Optimizing effective yet tolerable therapeutic regimens for elderly patients could improve their outcomes while ensuring that the goals of improved survival and quality of life are considered.
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