Breast Cancer in the Elderly

Is there a Role for Primary and Secondary Prevention Strategies?

Ruth E Heisey, MD, CCFP, FCFP
Assistant Professor,
University of Toronto,
Family physician and Clinical Associate,
Department of Surgical Oncology,
Sunnybrook and Women's Health Science Centre, and
Princess Margaret Hospital Site,
University Health Network,
Toronto, ON.

H Lavina A Lickley, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS
Professor of Surgery and Physiology,
University of Toronto,
Surgeon (special interest in Breast Disease),
Women's College Campus of Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Science Centre,
Toronto, ON.

"Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young."1 Fred Astaire

Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in women over the age of 65.2 Between the ages of 30 and 80 years, the annual incidence of breast cancer rises from 1:5900 to 1:290.3,4 It has been estimated that by the year 2030, almost two-thirds of women with a diagnosis of breast cancer will be 65 years of age or older.5

The incidence of breast cancer among Canadian women has been rising steadily over the past decade, probably due in part to improved detection with mammographic examinations.