New research indicates that elderly women with breast cancer probably do not benefit from using chemo to extend their lives. A research team from the University of Texas Health Science Center led the chemotherapy study, which was published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society. The team examined data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, which is operated by the National Cancer Institute. The team looked at data from 14,440 women who had been diagnosed with Stage I to IIIA hormone receptor-negative breast cancer and who were also older than 65-years-old.
Generally, chemotherapy was linked with a reduced risk of death from all causes. For example, chemotherapy reduced the risk of death in women who had been diagnosed with these breast cancers by 30 percent between the ages of 65 and 69. Chemotherapy reduced the risk of death by 24 percent in women ages 75-79 who had been diagnosed with these breast cancers.
Unfortunately, once women hit 80-years-old, chemo didn’t really buy women any more time than if they had just skipped the chemotherapy. However, Medical News Today did report on one exception to these statistics.
“There was one exception. In a small number of women over the age of 80 who received combination chemotherapy in the form of doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) — also known as AC chemotherapy — there was a 29% reduction in death risk.”
Still, even that combination was only beneficial up until the age of 84, according to the researchers.
The researchers pointed out that their sample size was very large, and the sheer size strengthens the evidence that for women over 80 with breast cancer, chemotherapy might not be a worthwhile endeavor. Earlier and smaller trials found that chemo isn’t effective for women with breast cancer after the age of 70.
The lead author of the research into chemotherapy’s effect on extending the lives of aging women with breast cancer, Professor Xianglin Du, explained that there could be a couple of reasons why it appears as though chemo might not be the answer for elderly women with breast cancer.
“Chemotherapy’s reduced effect on the risk of mortality in older breast cancer patients could be due to several factors: tumors being less sensitive to chemotherapy, a decrease in dosage as the body gets weaker with age or chemotherapy killing healthy cells in addition to cancer cell.”
Last year, the Inquisitr reported on a breast cancer study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry which found that eating only the fleshy parts and the peel of two to three peaches daily might be able to reduce the risk of breast cancer spreading to other areas of the body and slow breast cancer growth. According to the lead researcher from that study, in only 12 days, mice fed a peach extract that was the human equivalent of eating only a few peaches a day had reduced breast cancer growth, lessened blood vessel formation within the breast tumors, and less evidence of breast cancer spreading enzymes.
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