A Prospective Comparison of Younger and Older Patients' Preferences for Adjuvant Chemotherapy and Hormonal Therapy in Early Breast Cancer

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



It is unknown what minimal benefit in disease-free survival older patients with breast cancer require from adjuvant systemic therapy, and if this differs from that required by younger patients. We prospectively examined patients' preferences for adjuvant chemotherapy (aCT) and adjuvant hormonal therapy (aHT), factors related to minimally-required benefit, and patients' self-reported motivations.

Patients and Methods:

Fifty-two younger (40–64 years) and 29 older (≥ 65 years) women with a first primary, invasive tumor were interviewed post-surgery, prior to receiving aCT/aHT recommendation.


The proportions of younger versus older participants who would accept, refuse, or were undecided about therapy were 92% versus 62%, 4% versus 24%, and 4% versus 14% for aCT, and 92% versus 59%, 8% versus 17%, and 0% versus 24% for aHT. The proportion of older participants who would refuse rather than accept aCT was larger than that of younger participants (P = .005). No significant difference was found for aHT (P = .12). Younger and older participants' minimally-required benefit, in terms of additional 10-year disease-free survival, to accept aCT (median, 5% vs. 4%; P = .13) or aHT (median, 10% vs. 8%; P = .15) did not differ. Being single/divorced/widowed (odds ratio [OR], 0.16; P = .005), presence of geriatric condition (inability to perform daily activities, incontinence, severe sensory impairment, depression, polypharmacy, difficulties with walking; OR, 0.27; P = .047), and having a preference to make the treatment decision either alone or after considering the clinician's opinion (active role; OR, 0.15; P = .012) were independently related to requiring larger benefits from aCT. The most frequent motivations for/against therapy included the wish to survive/avoid recurrence, clinician's recommendation, side effects, and treatment duration (only aHT).


Whereas older participants were less willing to accept aCT than younger participants, no significant difference was found for aHT. However, a majority of older participants would still accept both therapies. Adjuvant systemic therapy should be discussed with eligible patients regardless of age.


This study prospectively compared the preferences for adjuvant systemic therapy of younger and older patients with early breast cancer. Older patients accepted adjuvant chemotherapy less often than younger patients. No significant difference was found for adjuvant hormonal therapy. The majority of older patients would still accept therapy. Both age groups required similar benefits in disease-free survival to accept therapy.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles