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Adjuvant chemotherapy in elderly patients with breast cancer: a survey of the Breast International Group (BIG)

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, with 1.05 million new cases worldwide in 2000. Almost half of all cases occur in women aged 65 years. The incidence rises with advancing age, which translates into an eight-fold higher mortally rate in elderly women compared to the younger population. Demographic trends suggest that by 2025 the number of elderly women diagnosed with breast cancer in the USA will increase by 72% if incidence rates remain constant.
Elderly cancer patients have usually been excluded from clinical trials. The Oxford Overview has shown that polychemotherapy induces a highly significant benefit in terms of relapse and survival rates in breast cancer patients up to the age of 70 years, even if this seems to decrease with increasing age. Unfortunately, only 600 women aged 70 years were included in the 47 adjuvant chemotherapy trials analyzed, rendering it impossible to estimate the benefit of chemotherapy in this age group......

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