Are you ever too old to get breast cancer?
Unfortunately, cancer can affect anyone at any age. Senior women—and men—can still be diagnosed with breast cancer. The exception is if the patient has had a double mastectomy, which removes both breasts. At Breast Center at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, our oncology team understands that elderly patients have unique concerns and challenges. We invite patients to turn to our professional breast health nurse navigators for compassionate guidance and workable solutions.
How age affects breast cancer
Breast cancer is actually more common among women ages 60 and older, although it can certainly affect younger women. This type of cancer is of particular concern among women who enter menopause after age 55. It’s thought that their risk is elevated because of the greater lifetime exposure to estrogen.
Once a woman has entered menopause, her body’s primary way of producing estrogen is from body fat. In other words, menopausal women who are overweight or obese have an even greater risk of breast cancer.
Research suggests that losing weight may offer preventive benefits for older women, although the evidence isn’t conclusive. According to the American Cancer Society, the results from the Nurses’ Health Study reveal a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer among post-menopausal women who lost weight and kept it off for at least four years.
Why mammogram recommendations should be individualized
Although there is no upper age limit for breast cancer to develop, aggressive mammogram screening schedules might not necessarily be right for every woman. Each patient’s risk factors, lifestyle and overall health are unique, and only a doctor can provide dependable medical guidance.
How cancer treatments may affect older women
Breast cancer can be successfully treated in elderly patients, but there are often additional complications. Elderly patients are more likely to have poor overall health, and to have other, underlying medical conditions. These issues may mean that it’s more difficult to tolerate the rigors of cancer treatment.
At any age, women should feel empowered to self-advocate for their own health preferences. A doctor can help patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options, and guide them in making informed healthcare decisions.
Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center features a technologically advanced Breast Center, staffed by a multidisciplinary team of breast health experts. We emphasize a patients-first approach to care that encourages patients to get actively involved in the treatment planning process. You can request a referral by calling one of our registered nurses in Las Vegas at (702) 233-5300.