Comorbidity, disability and geriatric syndromes in elderly breast cancer survivors. Results of a single-center experience.Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2010 Mar; 73(3):236-45.CR
Advancing age is a major risk factor for breast cancer. Long-term follow-up is recommended after diagnosis and treatment of early breast cancer. With older age, the risk of comorbid conditions and functional impairment increases. A useful tool in the management and follow-up of these elderly patients could be a comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA).
A descriptive, transversal study was carried out of the prevalence of other comorbidities and of the functional impairment in elderly patients on follow-up after curative treatment of early breast cancer.
Women aged> or =70 at diagnosis; early breast cancer treated surgically. No disease recurrence allowed.
CGA was conducted in an oncology unit using screening instruments (activities of daily living [ADL]; instrumental activities of daily living [IADL]; body mass index [BMI]; geriatric depression scale [GDS]). Cognitive status was reported by the patient. Comorbidity was classified using the Charlson score.
From January 2005 to June 2006 91 patients were seen. Mean age at surgery: 76 (70-92). Mean age at CGA: 80 (71-95). Aged population (almost 25% were more than 84 at the time of CGA). Median follow-up: 5 years (range 1-12). Good performance status (PS) in most (only 9% PS 2). Eighty-three percent were fully independent for ADL and 71% for IADL. IADL most affected was the ability to drive/use public transport. Twenty-eight percent had geriatric syndromes and 23% were classified as "frail". Increased age was associated with worsening PS (p=0.0001) and worsening function (ADL p<0.0001 and IADL p<0.0001). The study is remarkable for the high comorbidity index found in the elderly survivors. Median Charlson score was 2 (1-6). More than 75% of the series had a score >/=4. Cardiovascular disease (hypertension) was the most prevalent comorbid condition. As an effect of this, the majority of patients were polymedicated (75% took more than six drugs). Comorbidity was independent of functionality and age.
Older patients with early breast cancer on follow-up have a high prevalence of comorbidity. In our series, function and independence were maintained. A selection bias cannot be excluded, as the fitter patients are those who usually continue with the follow-up, while those frail patients who do not continue because of their functional impairment are usually lost.