Studies regarding the effect of treatment on the physical functioning of older patients with breast cancer are limited. A group of researchers sought to examine physical functioning in various age brackets of patients who were enrolled in the Tamoxifen Exemestane Adjuvant Multinational (TEAM) phase III trial.

The researchers, led by Marloes Derks, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands, measured physical activity in metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours/week at 1 and 2 years posttreatment intervals. Linear regression analysis was used to determine decreases in physical function. The 431 respondents were separated into 3 age brackets (younger than 60 years, 60 to 69 years, and older than 69 years) and their functioning reviewed via the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 questionnaire. 

Decreases in physical function were observed in all age brackets. The eldest age bracket was independently linked to physical atrophy. Patients in the 70+ years age bracket also demonstrated a lesser responsiveness to adjuvant hormonal therapy and breast surgery, compared to the other age brackets. The study authors stated that age-specific guidelines that factor in treatment consequences and quality-of-life considerations for older patients are needed.

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1. Derks M, Glas N, Bastiaannet E, et al. Physical functioning in older patients with breast cancer: a prospective cohort study in the TEAM Trial. Oncologist. 2016 Jul 1. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2016-0033. [Epub ahead of print]