Outcomes associated with chemotherapy in elderly patients with early stage operable breast cancer

Kavita Rohidas Sail, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. Various clinical trials have proved the efficacy of adjuvant chemotherapy in women with breast cancer. Chemotherapy efficacy and guidelines for its use differ by stage of tumor and age of the patient with no clear recommendations for patients aged 70 and above. Objective. To examine the clinical and economic outcomes associated with chemotherapy use in and to examine the disparities in treatment and survival in elderly patients with early stage operable breast cancer by age and axillary node status. Methods. We studied a cohort of 23,110 node positive and 31,572 node negative women aged 65 and over diagnosed with incident American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage I, II or IIIa breast cancer between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2002 using SEER-Medicare data. Total patient costs were estimated using the phase of care approach and adjusted cost estimates were obtained from regression analysis using a 3% discount rate. Cox proportional hazard ratio of mortality was used to determine the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Propensity score approach was also used to minimize the bias associated with receipt of chemotherapy. To assess disparity in treatment, multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the relative odds of receiving surgery, chemotherapy and radiation after BCS for African Americans compared to Whites. Results. Regression adjusted cost estimates for all node positive patients receiving chemotherapy was approximately $2,300 and was significantly higher (p<0.05) than for patients not receiving chemotherapy. Mortality was significantly lower in node positive and node negative women aged 65-74 years receiving chemotherapy. There was a significant difference between African American and White women in receiving BCS and radiation after BCS; however this difference was explained by patient demographics, tumor characteristics and socioeconomic status (SES). African American node positive women were 21% less likely to receive chemotherapy than White women (OR, 0.79; CI, 0.68-0.92) in multivariate analysis. Conclusion. Chemotherapy is associated with increased survival in patients aged 65-74 and total costs attributable to chemotherapy differ by phase and age of the patient. Underutilization of systemic adjuvant chemotherapy in African American women requires attention and may serve as potential areas for appropriate intervention.

Subject Area

Statistics|Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Sail, Kavita Rohidas, "Outcomes associated with chemotherapy in elderly patients with early stage operable breast cancer" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3398994.