How long are elderly patients followed up with mammography after the diagnosis of breast cancer? A single-centre experience in a developing country

Yethiksha Parag, Ines Buccimazza


Background. The effect of breast cancer on elderly South African (SA) patients is not well characterised. The lack of data with regard to disease burden, post-treatment surveillance and breast cancer relapse poses a challenge to providing optimum follow-up care to this group of patients.

Objectives. To assess the effect of breast cancer and adherence to post-treatment surveillance programmes among the local elderly population attending the breast oncology clinics at Addington and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central hospitals in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, SA.

Methods. A retrospective review was undertaken of all patients aged ≥65 years diagnosed with breast cancer during 2007. Hospital records were reviewed for a period of 5 years to ascertain the stage of the disease, treatment received, adherence to post-treatment surveillance mammograms, incidence of new mammographic findings and recurrence, site of recurrence, mode of detection of recurrence, disease-free survival, and overall survival rates at 5 years.

Results. In our study, the incidence of breast cancer in the elderly population was 26.7%. A significant percentage of patients (56.3%) were diagnosed at an advanced stage of disease. Of the 46.9% who had received surveillance mammography, only 6.3% received their post-treatment surveillance mammograms on time, in accordance with international recommendations. New mammographic findings were detected in 26.7% of patients during the 5-year follow-up. During the follow-up period, 15.6% of the total number of study patients presented with disease recurrence. Eighty percent of cases of recurrence were detected clinically. The overall survival at 5 years was 65.6%.

Conclusion. Our study highlights the significant number of elderly patients with advanced disease at diagnosis, poor compliance with internationally recommended annual post-treatment surveillance mammograms, and the relatively low overall 5-year survival rate compared with that of international studies.

Authors' affiliations

Yethiksha Parag, Department of Radiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Ines Buccimazza, Breast Unit, Department of General Surgery, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Elderly; Breast cancer; Followed up; Mammogram

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2016;106(7):721-723. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i7.10405

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-11-29
Date published: 2016-06-17

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