For most women, breast surgery is often one of the first courses of treatment for breast cancer. It often begins the path to being cancer-free. However, surgery is not always the best option for treatment. In some cases, the treatment might not even be wanted or even helpful, such as in the cases of nursing home patients. USA Today reports on how breast surgery in elderly nursing home patients may even hasten death.
In a report released Wednesday in the journal JAMA Surgery, experts are questioning the benefit of breast cancer screenings and surgery among elderly nursing home patients.
The records of 6,000 nursing home patients who underwent breast surgery for breast cancer over the past decade were reviewed. The findings troubled experts, who say that 31% to 43% of patients died within a year of the procedure.
That statistic is markedly higher than the 25% of nursing home residents who typically die annually.
It is important to note that the study did not include information as to the causes of death, but lead author Dr. Victoria Tang suspects that many of the women died due to underlying health problems or complications related to the surgery.
Dementia and the inability to take care of oneself were also factors that increased the risk of death within a year of the surgery.
She also believes that the cause of death was unlikely to be cancer, which often takes decades to turn fatal.
The women in the study were an average of 82 years old when they underwent the procedure. Many suffered from chronic illnesses and mental decline, including diabetes, heart failure, and chronic lung disease.