Breast Cancer in Women Age 65 and Older (VIDEO)

(VIDEO: Starr Mautner, M.D., a breast surgeon at Miami Cancer Institute, discusses treatments for breast cancer in older women.)

Breast cancer in older women – age 65 and older – is very common and more prevalent than breast cancer in younger women. That’s because age is one of the biggest risk factors for developing the disease.

“As the U.S. population continues to age and people are living longer, we continue to see more patients diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Starr Mautner, M.D., a breast surgeon with Miami Cancer Institute.

Annual screening mammograms are recommended for most women over the age of 65 who are in good health. The majority of breast cancers in this population are found through the usual techniques of mammogram or ultrasound.

Dr. Mautner says the good news is that most of these patients who are diagnosed with the earliest stages of breast cancer (stage 0-1) do as well as younger women with the same diagnosis.

“In general, older breast cancer patients have less aggressive tumors that are hormone receptor positive and HER2-negative and are low-to-intermediate grade,” Dr. Mautner said.

Treatment offered to patients older than age 65 includes standard surgical techniques of breast conservation, or lumpectomy, and mastectomy. Recovery time, quality of life issues, and effect on overall health are among the key factors these patients think about when deciding with their doctor which approach is best for them.

Supplementary treatment recommendations, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy, are looked at on an individual basis and tailored to the patient’s health, risks and life expectancy, according to Dr. Mautner. For older women who have other serious or chronic medical conditions, a treatment approach that minimizes intervention and medications may be best.

“Quality of life issues are very important to consider when thinking about what treatments may be best suitable for older women with breast cancer,” she said.

Watch the video to learn more.

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