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From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition
younger ages, at a median age of 57 as compared to age 63 for white women (Ries et al., 2004).
Women with newly diagnosed breast cancer tend to be younger than women who are breast cancer survivors. As many as two-thirds (66 percent) of incident cases of breast cancer occur under age 65 and roughly one-third (35 percent) occur before age 55. Given this relatively young age distribution, many of these women would be expected to be working and have responsibilities as mothers with school-age children, caregivers to aging parents, and spouses. In contrast, breast cancer survivors as a group are older with most (55 percent) women being aged 65 and older. This older age distribution of prevalent as compared to incident cases of breast cancer is illustrated in Figure 2-22. With this age distribution, most breast cancer survivors are of retirement age, are likely to be facing other chronic illnesses associated with aging, and are eligible for Medicare health insurance coverage.
Many women with breast cancer have other chronic illnesses at the time of their diagnosis. Such comorbid conditions can affect treatment
FIGURE 2-22 Age distribution of incident and prevalent cases of breast cancer. Incidence figures are for 1998–2002; prevalence figures are for SEER 2002 and are limited to individuals diagnosed within the past 27 years.