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Age Linked to Positive Lymph Nodes in Breast Cancer

Risk of positive lymph nodes decreases with increasing age up to 70; increases thereafter

FRIDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Women with early breast cancer are less likely to have positive lymph nodes with increasing age up to the age of 70 years, but are more likely to have positive lymph nodes with increasing age above 70, according to a study published online May 18 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Hans Wildiers, M.D., from University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium, and colleagues analyzed data on age at diagnosis and axillary lymph node involvement in 2,227 patients with early breast cancer.

The researchers found that the likelihood of lymph node involvement fell with increasing age up to 70 years (odds ratio per 10-year increase, 0.87). After 70 years of age, the likelihood increased with increasing age, but mainly in smaller tumors. The results were replicated in another group of 3,234 women, the authors note.

"With additional improvements in molecular imaging and profiling, it is hoped that in the not too distant future, noninvasive, accurate assessment of axillary nodal status will become a reality," Eleftherios P. Mamounas, M.D., from Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown, Ohio, writes in an accompanying editorial. "Until then, judicious assessment of the risk for axillary nodal involvement and careful weighing of the pros and cons of surgical axillary staging should dictate management in older patients with operable breast cancer."

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