Metastatic breast cancer - age has a significant effect on survival
The data on 217 elderly (aged ≥ 65 years) and 209 middleaged postmenopausal patients with metastatic breast cancer treated in the Department of Medical Oncology, University of Pretoria, from 1976 to 1985 were analysed to determine the effect of age on survival. When considered as a group, the elderly have a more favourable prognosis (median survival 20,3 months) than the middle-aged (median survival 15,54 months) (p= 0,0457). Multivariate age subset analysis (taking into account all other major prognostic factors) reveal a distinct bimodal pattern. The median survival of patients aged 45 - 54 years is 21,2 months and decreases to 16,2 months for patients aged 55 - 64 years (P= 0,08; Cox model). The median survival improves again to 24,6 months for patients aged 64 - 74 years (P= 0,0001; Cox model), followed by an apparent but non-significant decrease to 17,1 months in the very old (aged 75 - 84 years) (P = 0,52; Cox model). The more favourable prognosis in the elderly dictates effective non-toxic treatment.