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Keywords:

  • breast carcinoma;
  • chemotherapy;
  • women;
  • elderly;
  • Medicare;
  • population-based

Abstract

BACKGROUND

There is little population-based information available on the actual use of chemotherapy and how closely this use mirrors consensus recommendations. The authors hypothesized that given the relative stability of consensus conference recommendations on chemotherapy use during the period 1991–1996 the patterns of use would more closely approximate consensus recommendation over time.

METHODS

The authors studied women who received a diagnosis of Stage I–IV (American Joint Committee on Cancer staging) breast carcinoma at age 65 years and older from 1991 through 1996, using the SEER cancer registry cases linked with Medicare claims.

RESULTS

Overall, women whose disease was diagnosed in 1996 had a 30% higher chance of receiving chemotherapy than those in 1991, after controlling for changes in tumor size, stage, and other factors. The use of chemotherapy was strongly influenced by age, with women age 65–69 years more than twice as likely to receive it as were women 70 years and older. The increase over time in chemotherapy depended on both tumor stage and patient age. For Stage I tumor, there was no increase in chemotherapy for any age. For Stage II, the increase was limited to younger women, whereas for Stage III and IV it was observed in women age 70 years and older.

CONCLUSIONS

There was a significant increase of chemotherapy use over time from 1991 to 1996 in women age 65 years and older with breast carcinoma. The increase was limited to younger women and those with advanced stage at diagnosis. Thus, consensus recommendations and community practice seemed to mirror each other over time. Cancer 2001;92:730–7. © 2001 American Cancer Society.