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Jun 29 2011

Older Breast Cancer Patients, Especially In Rural Areas Not Getting Radiation

Posted in Community Service

The state of Alabama has a large number of older citizens living in rural areas, which represents accessibility to medical resources especially for breast cancer patients, Alabama product liability attorney Keith T. Belt says

Of women age 65 and older who undergo a mastectomy to treat advanced breast cancer, nearly half may not be receiving the optimal treatment, a new study finds. The oversight puts these women at greater risk of having the cancer return and increases their risk of dying from the disease.

The new study, published in the journal Cancer, finds that 45.2% of older women found to have high-risk breast cancer between 1999 and 2005 did not receive additional post-mastectomy radiation treatment, despite the publication of major guidelines recommending the therapy. High risk patients included those in whom  Stage 3 breast cancers were diagnosed, patients with tumors 5 centimeters or larger and those where the tumor had spread to four or more lymph nodes.

According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age, with about two  out of every three invasive breast cancers found in women age 55 or older.

So why aren’t older patients getting radiation?

The study found that women who live in areas with a lot of radiation oncologists were 20% more likely to get radiation than women who did not. Getting daily radiation treatment for five to six weeks can be a particular challenge for older patients, especially those living in rural areas with limited access to transportation.

A recent report, Aging in Place: Stuck Without Options, found that by 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans ages 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or non-existent, which can make getting to doctor appointments problematic for this age group.