Therapeutic management of breast cancer in the elderly

Simon Spazzapan, Diana Crivellari, Philippe Bedard, Davide Lombardi, Gianmaria Miolo, Simona Scalone, Andrea Veronesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Over the last few decades, the population of developed countries has aged. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among the increased numbers of older women. The choice of adjuvant treatment is particularly difficult in older women because the oncologist has to balance reduction of the risk of recurrence with patient-related comorbidities that may increase the risk of treatment-related toxicity and influence patient survival. Areas covered: This article describes the concept of a comprehensive geriatric assessment and reviews the current literature on biological and pathological characteristics of breast cancer in the elderly, including genomic assays recently available in the clinic. Endocrine, targeted and chemotherapy treatments both in adjuvant and metastatic setting are also covered. Expert opinion: A new generation of studies aimed to re-evaluate treatments in the various subtypes of breast cancer is needed. Whether this will be possible through prospective studies (especially in the adjuvant setting) is unknown. An alternative direction for further research in the elderly could be a reappraisal of old studies with carefully planned subtype analyses. Whatever the direction, the management of elderly breast-cancer patients is inherently multidisciplinary: the contribution of medical and allied health professionals is essential to the provision of optimal care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-960
Number of pages16
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • ageing
  • breast cancer
  • elderly
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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