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1.  Breast Cancer in Young Women: Poor Survival Despite Intensive Treatment 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7695.
Background
Breast cancer is uncommon in young women and correlates with a less favourable prognosis; still it is the most frequent cancer in women under 40, accounting for 30–40% of all incident female cancer. The aim of this study was to study prognosis in young women, quantifying how much stage at diagnosis and management on the one hand, and tumour biology on the other; each contribute to the worse prognosis seen in this age group.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In a registry based cohort of women aged 20–69 (n = 22 017) with a primary diagnosis of invasive breast cancer (1992–2005), women aged 20–34 (n = 471), 35–39 (n = 858) and 40–49 (n = 4789) were compared with women aged 50–69 years (n = 15 899). The cumulative 5-year relative survival ratio and the relative excess mortality (RER) were calculated. The cumulative 5-year relative survival ratio was lowest in women aged 20–34. The RER was 2.84 for women aged 20–34 and decreased with increasing age (RER 1.76 and 1.17 for women aged 35–39 and 40–49, respectively). The excess risk was, however, present only in disease stages I and II. For women aged 20–34 with stage I disease RER was 4.63, and 6.70 in the subgroup with tumour size 1–10 mm. The absolute difference in stage I between the youngest and the reference groups amounted to nearly 8%, with a 90% 5-year survival in women aged 20–34. In stages IIa and IIb, the relative excess risk was not as dramatic, but the absolute differences approached 15%. The youngest women with small tumours generally received more aggressive treatment than women in older age groups.
Conclusions
After correction for stage, tumour characteristics and treatment, age remained an independent risk factor for breast cancer death in women <35 years of age. The excess risk for young women was only seen in early stages of disease and was most pronounced in women with small tumours. Young women affected by breast cancer have a high risk of dying compared to their middle-aged counterparts even if diagnosed early and receiving an intense treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007695
PMCID: PMC2770847  PMID: 19907646
2.  Differences in Management of Older Women Influence Breast Cancer Survival: Results from a Population-Based Database in Sweden 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(3):e25.
Background
Several reports have shown that less aggressive patterns of diagnostic activity and care are provided to elderly breast carcinoma patients. We sought to investigate whether differences in the management of older women with breast cancer are associated with survival.
Methods and Findings
In an observational study using a population-based clinical breast cancer register of one health-care region in Sweden, we identified 9,059 women aged 50–84 y diagnosed with primary breast cancer between 1992 and 2002. The 5-y relative survival ratio was estimated for patients classified by age group, diagnostic activity, tumor characteristics, and treatment. The 5-y relative survival for breast cancer patients was lower (up to 13%) in women 70–84 y of age compared to women aged 50–69 y, and the difference was most pronounced in stage IIB–III and in the unstaged. Significant differences in disease management were found, as older women had larger tumors, had fewer nodes examined, and did not receive treatment by radiotherapy or by chemotherapy as often as the younger women. Adjustment for diagnostic activity, tumor characteristics, and treatment diminished the relative excess mortality in stages III and in the unstaged, whereas the excess mortality was only marginally affected in stage IIB.
Conclusions
Less diagnostic activity, less aggressive treatment, and later diagnosis in older women are associated with poorer survival. The large differences in treatment of older women are difficult to explain by co-morbidity alone.
A study from Sweden shows that a lower 5-year relative survival for older women with breast cancer was associated with less diagnostic activity, less aggressive treatment, and later diagnosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030025
PMCID: PMC1326256  PMID: 16409108

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