Standard Chemotherapy Shows Increased Toxicity for Elderly with Node-Positive Breast Cancer

University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Last Modified: May 19, 1998

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While another study presented yesterday demonstrates that older breast cancer patients with early stage breast cancer can tolerate standard adjuvant chemotherapy, this study finds that elderly patients whose breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes do not appear to be able to tolerate standard chemotherapy as well as younger patients when using the more toxic drug Methotrexate.

This international study evaluating 1,266 elderly women with node-positive breast cancer found that elderly patients experienced increased toxicity with full dose of standard chemotherapy CMF (Cyclophosphamide, Methotrexate, 5-Fluorouracil). In the study, patients under 65 years of age experienced less toxicity than patients between the ages of 65-70. Patients over the age of 70 experience moderate toxicity — especially mucosal toxicities (oral, gastrointestinal or vesical) — higher than all other age groups. This finding will help physicians tailor oncology care to this patients population, providing as much active treatment as can be tolerated, and selecting the most appropriate active drugs available.

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