Breast Cancer Advances Pass Older Patients By

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However, when it comes to breast cancer death rates, any decrease can be considered a victory. Experts note that even though these rates didn't decrease as quickly for older women, they still are lower than ever, representing a major medical victory of the last three decades.

"Because of historical differences in access to care and early detection, there are persistent disparities in these gains in different groups of women," said Dr. Harold Burstein, a breast oncologist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "Thus, it is harder to see as much gain in the older patients as it is in the younger ones."

Smith emphasized the importance of medical advances against breast cancerbut said more research should focus on how screening and treatment should be tailored to the needs of older patients.This knowledge may come in handy in the next 20 years. As the population ages, the number of older women with breast cancer is expected to increase by 57 percent.

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