Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women worldwide, and represents the leading cause of death in the female population. Incidence of breast cancer increases with age, and older patients are more likely to have disseminated disease at diagnosis. For those patients who relapse after endocrine treatment or in which the tumor does not express hormone receptors, chemotherapy should be considered. Single agent sequential regimens should be preferred to combination regimens, which are usually more toxic and provide a limited survival gain. New drugs which have proven efficacy against metastatic breast cancer are Taxanes (Paclitaxel and Docetaxel), Vinorelbine, Capecitabine, Gemcitabine, various and newer formulations of Anthracyclines (Epirubicin, oral Idarubicin, liposomal Doxorubicin). The anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody Trastuzumab in association with chemotherapy can be administered to elderly patients who present with HER2 overexpressing tumors, though cardiac monitoring is necessary due to cardiac adverse events. Bevacizumab, an anti- VEGF monoclonal antibody, was recently patented and approved in combination with Paclitaxel for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Globally, there is need to develop therapeutics able to circumvent resistance against hormonal and other therapies for advanced breast cancer, which are expected to be safe and effective in this age class.
Keywords: Breast cancer, elderly, chemotherapy, paclitaxel, protein-bound paclitaxel, docetaxel, vinorelbine, capecitabine, gemcitabine, idarubicin
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