Senior Women and Breast Cancer Risks
Breast cancer in senior women has been increasing as the U.S. population ages. There are a number of risk factors that increase for women 55 and older; many are uncontrollable and some are specific to aging.
- Hormones – Post-menopausal women are at a higher risk for breast cancer. There are distinctive results suggesting that hormones play a large part in increasing the risk of breast cancer, especially in senior women.
- Family History – Women 75+ may be at higher risk because diagnoses of breast cancer in earlier generations were less common. Medical technology has advanced drastically since women of 75+ had mothers, aunts, and grandmothers that may have had undetected breast cancer.
- BMI – A body mass index in the highest quartile (at 28kg/m² or above) are at a higher risk than those in the lowest quartile (less than 22kg/m²). Body mass index isn’t just weight alone but a mathematical equation that is considered more accurate than simply using just a person’s weight.
- Obesity – Women tend to gain weight after menopause and have more difficulty losing weight as they age. Reduced ability to remain active can also add to unwanted weight gain.
- Age – The occurrence of breast cancer peaks in women ages 75-79. The referenced studies listed suggest that biological differences in senior women are quite possibly a factor in increasing risk.
- Number of Live Births – Those who had 5 or more live births had a lower risk of breast cancer in senior women than those who birthed 1 or 2 children. While researchers are uncertain why, they have determined that having more children has somehow reduced the risk of breast cancer.
Senior Women and Breast Cancer Recovery
Early detection and treatment are extremely important in fighting breast cancer. Perform self-exams regularly.
Survival Tips for Senior Women with Breast Cancer
- Seek Proper Treatment – Many older women are slow to seek aggressive treatment when diagnosed. Some physicians are also less likely to treat breast cancer as aggressively in senior women due to health concerns.
- Recurrence – Senior women with breast cancer are 29% more likely to have a recurrence than their younger counterparts; often opting not to treat the cancer again because of age.
No matter how old you are, it is important to realize that the majority of women survive breast cancer. Take a stand if someone you love or you are a senior woman with breast cancer!
American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 160, Issue 9, Pp. 868-875 – Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in Elderly Women – Carol Sweeney, Cindy K. Blair, Kristin E. Anderson, DeAnn Lazovich, Aaron R. Folsom
Journal of American Medical Association – February 15, 2012 Issue
Susan G. Komen – Reference: van de Water W, Markopoulos C, van de Velde CJH et al. Association between age at diagnosis and disease-specific mortality among postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. JAMA. 2012;307:590-597 – See more