Most everyone of us has known someone within our immediate circle affected by breast cancer. It’s one of the two most-common types of cancers in the world according to the World Health Organization. But hope is a word that can now be associated with this horrible disease thanks to exciting research developments.

But what does this mean for the elderly population who is more at risk for the disease?

Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) indicates the guidelines for treating elderly breast cancer patients are lacking and their goal is to change that. Especially since projections estimate invasive breast cancer cases will double in 10 years.

Why are there no clear guidelines for treating the elderly population? This age group is often excluded from clinical trials which would help researchers understand how toxicities of cancer therapies affect older adults. Plus, older patients may respond to treatment differently since they’re at greater risk of side effects and even death.

Hope In Sight

A BCRF investigator is currently conducting a multi-site clinical trial in older patients with early stage breast cancer. The trial hopes to assess how chemotherapy affects overall health and identify patients who are mostly likely to be at risk.

Currently, the standard treatment for early stage breast cancer includes surgery, radiation and adjuvant hormonal therapies. Adjuvant means a substance which enhances the body’s immune response to an antigen or toxin.

What’s exciting is that evidence is showing that these hormonal therapies do well in many older women, and because of that they might not require radiation. However, many doctors still favor radiation treatment to help reduce the risk of recurrence and are hesitant to omit it from their protocols. 

For more on this topic and other breast cancer news please visit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation