3 years ago

Routine treatment and outcome of breast cancer in younger versus elderly patients: results from the SENORA project of the prospective German TMK cohort study

Erik Engel, Mark-Oliver Zahn, Norbert Marschner, Martina Jänicke, the TMK-Group (Tumour Registry Breast Cancer), Melanie Frank, Andreas Köhler, Thomas Fietz, Lisa Kruggel



There is an ongoing discussion about ‘undertreatment’ of breast cancer in elderly patients. Due to low accrual into clinical trials, level 1 evidence is scarce. We report prospective data of elderly patients with breast cancer treated by medical oncologists in Germany.


The SENORA project within the prospective cohort study TMK (Tumour Registry Breast Cancer) was conducted in 82 centres from 2007–2015. Among 2316 patients, half were enrolled with curative and half with palliative treatment intention. Overall, 478 patients (21%) were aged ≥ 70.


In the adjuvant setting, elderly patients aged ≥ 70 had more advanced tumour stages at diagnosis and a higher prevalence of comorbidities than younger patients. Elderly patients received adjuvant chemotherapy less frequently, yet the 3-year disease-free survival was similar (86% vs. 88%). In the palliative setting, elderly patients more frequently received endocrine therapy and less frequently chemotherapy. Their median overall survival [24.9 months, 95% CI (confidence interval) 20.0–30.2] was significantly shorter than that of younger patients (39.7 months, 95% CI 34.9–44.2). A Cox proportional hazards model showed a significantly increased risk of mortality for: age ≥ 70 at start of therapy, negative HR- or HER2-status, higher number of metastatic sites, more comorbidities and high tumour grading at diagnosis.


Our results shed light on the routine treatment of elderly patients with breast cancer. A regression model demonstrated that age is but one of various prognostic factors determining the shorter overall survival of elderly patients.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10549-017-4534-8

DOI: 10.1007/s10549-017-4534-8

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