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Worse outcomes for older breast cancer patients with other health problems, study finds

Date:
June 30, 2011
Source:
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Summary:
Older breast cancer patients with certain other health problems have higher mortality rates than patients without these problems, according to a new study. The other health problems, or "comorbidities," include heart attack and other heart-related problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and others.

Older breast cancer patients with certain other health problems have higher mortality rates than patients without these problems according to a study published online June 30 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The other health problems, or 'comorbidities', include heart attack and other heart-related problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and others.

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Previous studies have shown that comorbidities as a group are associated with poorer overall survival and higher overall death rates among breast cancer patients. In this study, Jennifer L. Patnaik, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, and colleagues looked at the association between each of 13 individual conditions and survival.

Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database, the researchers identified 64,034 women age 66 years and older who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1992 and 2000. Of these, 42% had a history of one or more of 13 conditions -- stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic renal failure, congestive heart failure, dementia, diabetes, liver disease, heart attack, paralysis, peripheral vascular disease, previous cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcers.

Each of these conditions was independently associated with increased overall mortality (deaths from any cause including cancer) and lower overall survival rates. When the researchers looked at each comorbid condition in patients age 66-74, they found that patients with stage 1 tumors and the comorbidity had overall survival rates the same as or worse than patients with stage II tumors and no comorbidities.

The authors conclude that comorbidities are important in predicting survival of breast cancer patients. They write that the study suggests that "careful attention to the effective management of comorbid conditions, as well as to the management of a patient's cancer, may result in longer overall survival for older breast cancer patients."

In an accompanying editorial, Worta McCaskill-Stevens, M.D., and Jeff Abrams, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md., discuss the importance of studying older breast cancer patients, who account for a large proportion of women with the disease and who often have comorbidities. They conclude that the findings of this study "are provocative, suggesting that care should be individualized in patients with comorbidities and the diseases should be co-managed between oncologists and primary care physicians."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jennifer L. Patnaik, Tim Byers, Carolyn Diguiseppi, Thomas D. Denberg, Dana Dabelea. The Influence of Comorbidities on Overall Survival Among Older Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2011; DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djr188

Cite This Page:

Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "Worse outcomes for older breast cancer patients with other health problems, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630161832.htm>.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (2011, June 30). Worse outcomes for older breast cancer patients with other health problems, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630161832.htm
Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "Worse outcomes for older breast cancer patients with other health problems, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110630161832.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

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