Oncologists may be anxious about treating older women with breast cancer in the same way that they would treat younger patients, but research conducted at the Institute Paoli Calmettes in Marseilles, France, has shown that older patients can tolerate powerful medication too.
Speaking today (20 October 2002) at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Nice, France, Dr Anne Chantal Braud called for a standardisation in the treatment of the elderly. Dr Braud and her team examined the effects of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy in 179 women over the age of 70 years. The treatment is usually influenced by the physician's choice and patient's age instead of standard factors, such as the size of the tumour, node involvement and grade. However, physicians' choices have been modified, now that the supportive care procedure has been well established.
"We now know that treatment is well tolerated by patients, in contrast to our expectations," said Dr Braud.
The investigations are now being expanded to include regional collaboration with 13 other hospitals, as part of a bigger programme on the elderly patient with cancer. "In this network we are trying to develop a common evaluation and therapeutic approach," explained Dr Braud. The team at the Fédération Nationale des Centres de Lutte Contre le Cancer also plan to collaborate with the other 20 cancer centres (the Gerico Project) and some other projects with the Moffit Cancer Center in Florida, USA.