After the age of 60 your chances of developing breast cancer increase. The good news is that the likelihood of dying from breast cancer at that age is quite low. Every time you have a mammogram you probably worry that a lump will be found and that you may have breast cancer. However, in the last twenty years there have been huge advances in surgery and reconstruction. The newer drugs are much more effective and much less toxic. Even the mammograms are more advanced than they used to be.
Breast Cancer Facts for Older Women
- Half of the women who are newly diagnosed are over sixty. More than a fifth are over seventy.
- The older you are when diagnosed, the less likely you are to die from this cancer.
- Once you’ve reached 75 there are no rules for how often you should have a mammogram. This should be discussed with your physician.
Up until the age of 75, screening is recommended every two years. After that there are no hard and fast rules because at this age the risks may be higher than the benefits. It will depend on your general health and your preferences, particularly if it runs in your family.
For older women, treatment may be relatively minor compared to that of younger women. The majority of women in their 80’s who get breast cancer will have tumors that have hormone receptors. These drugs cut the amount of estrogen that the body produces and include anastrozole which keeps estrogen out of cancer cells. A very small percentage of senior women will have cancers that have spread beyond the breast or tumors without hormone receptors. These women will have to speak with their physicians and make some choices based on:
- health and life expectancy
- risks versus benefits
- personal goals
To read the full article on senior women and breast cancer, click here.