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Age And Allocation Of Adjuvant Treatments

Jul 23, 2023

A recent article “Aging a Decade in a Day: Age cutoff bias in adjuvant therapy allocation for early-stage breast cancer” explores the issue of age bias in the allocation of adjuvant therapy for early-stage breast cancer patients. Adjuvant therapy is a type of cancer treatment that is given after surgery to remove cancerous tissue. It is used to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence by destroying any remaining cancer cells.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, analysed data from over 100,000 early-stage breast cancer patients who underwent surgery between 2004 and 2015. The researchers found that patients who were just above the age cutoff for adjuvant therapy allocation were significantly less likely to receive the treatment than those who were just below the cutoff. The age cutoff varied depending on the guidelines used, but it ranged from 65 to 70 years old.

The study showed that patients who were just above the age cutoff had a significantly higher risk of dying from breast cancer than those who were just below the cutoff. The researchers estimated that for every 10 patients who were just above the cutoff and did not receive adjuvant therapy, one additional patient died from breast cancer within five years of surgery. This suggests that the age cutoff for adjuvant therapy allocation may be causing age bias and potentially undertreatment of older breast cancer patients.

The article argues that age should not be the only factor in determining treatment options for breast cancer patients. Instead, individual patient factors and preferences should be taken into account. For example, some older patients may be healthy enough to tolerate adjuvant therapy and may want to receive it to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence. Conversely, some younger patients may have other health conditions or may prefer not to undergo additional cancer treatments after surgery.

The article also highlights the need for more research to identify other factors that may be contributing to age bias in breast cancer treatment. For example, some healthcare providers may be less likely to recommend adjuvant therapy to older patients because they assume that older patients are less likely to tolerate the treatment or may have a lower life expectancy. Additionally, older patients may be less likely to seek out or receive information about the benefits of adjuvant therapy.

The article concludes by calling for a more individualised approach to breast cancer treatment that takes into account the unique needs and preferences of each patient. This includes considering factors such as age, overall health, and other medical conditions, as well as patient preferences and values.

Arden Breast Clinic prides itself by adopting a more personalised approach to breast cancer treatment, to help to ensure that all patients receive the best possible care and outcomes, regardless of their age.