Management of breast cancer in older patients

Masataka Sawaki, Akihiko Shimomura, Tadahiko Shien, Hiroji Iwata

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Japanese women have the highest life expectancy in the world and breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among them. However, little data are available to support the evidence-based clinical management due to the fact that older adults are commonly excluded from most clinical trials. In Japan the rate of other cause of death in older patient was about a half, then we should consider whether or not breast cancer may affect the patient's life expectancy to avoid either overtreatment or undertreatment. Although management principles in older patients may be similar with those of younger age, these differences would be caused by relatively short life expectancy, some comorbidity, drug interactions and low functional status. Then, their treatment needs to be individualized. To this end, employing a comprehensive geriatric assessment may be advantageous, which enables to evaluate patient vulnerability from several different aspects, to predict adverse events of chemotherapy and to identify geriatric problems in advance so that extra support and modified treatment can be provided. Before treatment we should assess the patient's goals and values regarding the management of the cancer, especially on balancing survival benefit with immediate quality of life impairment due to anti-cancer therapy. In Japan Clinical Oncology Group (JCOG), a randomized controlled trial for older patients with advanced stage HER2-positive breast cancer is ongoing as an inferiority design including geriatric assessment (JCOG1607, HARB TEA study). Best practice, current management and how to approach decision making in older patients with breast cancer are summarized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-681
Number of pages8
JournalJapanese journal of clinical oncology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2022


  • Breast cancer
  • Comprehensive geriatric assessment
  • Elderly
  • Health-related quality of life (HRQoL)
  • Older

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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