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The prognosis of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) tends to be better among older women than among younger women, even though older women are less likely to receive aggressive treatment. These results were published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

Previous studies have reported that the prognosis of breast cancer tends to be better for women who are diagnosed at older ages, but few of these studies have focused specifically on triple-negative breast cancers (breast cancers that are estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative, and HER2-negative).

The explore the relationship between age and prognosis, researchers conducted a study among 1,732 women with TNBC. Roughly 21% of the women were age 40 or younger at the time of diagnosis.

Factors that were more common among younger women included non-white race, high-grade tumors, and treatment with chemotherapy.

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In spite of receiving more aggressive treatment, younger women tended to have worse disease-free and overall survival than older women. Median disease-free survival (survival without a recurrence or a new cancer) was 4 years among women who were diagnosed between ages 31 and 40, compared with 8 years among women diagnosed at age 60 or older.

The relationship between age and prognosis persisted even after accounting for factors such as family history of breast cancer, tumor grade and size, and lymph node involvement.

As has been reported for other types of breast cancer, older age tends to be linked with better outcomes among women with TNBC. Research into how the biology of TNBC varies by age may point the way toward new and more effective treatments for this condition.

Reference: Liedtke C, Hess KR, Karn T et al. The prognostic impact of age in patients with triple-negative breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Early online publication March 5, 2013.

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