For breast cancer patients aged 66 years and older, nurses should consider comorbidities when discussing prognosis, according to an analysis of Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results–Medicare data.
In a US population of 64,034 patients diagnosed with breast cancer at a median age of 75 years, Patnaik and colleagues identified 13 comorbid conditions associated with decreased overall survival and increased all-cause mortality (Table). Among the study population, 58% had none of the selected comorbidities, 28.0% had 1 comorbidity, 8.8% had 2 comorbidities, and 4.9% had ≥3 of the conditions.
Kaplan-Meier survival curves showed that comorbidities are associated with survival, meaning that for a patient with comorbid conditions diagnosed at an early stage, that patient had similar or worse survival than a patient with no comorbid conditions diagnosed at a later stage.
The investigators concluded that their findings suggest that “careful attention to the effective management of comorbid conditions, as well as to the management of a patient’s cancer, may result in longer overall survival for older breast cancer patients.”