Worse Outcomes for Older Breast Cancer Patients with Other Health Problems
Older breast cancer patients with certain other health problems have higher mortality rates than patients without these problems according to a study published 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.
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.