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Breast Cancer: Not a Death Sentence for the Elderly?

According to the Breast Cancer Journal, researchers at the University of Colorado found that older people diagnosed with breast cancer were more likely to die from heart disease or other causes then they were to pass on from cancer.

Breast cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the breast, usually in the ducts that move milk from the breast to the nipple although it has been known to start in other areas. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma.

Researchers from the University of Colorado analyzed the data from more then 60,000 American women aged 65 and older who were diagnosed with breast cancer and followed for at least 12 years after their diagnoses.

At the end of the 12 year follow up period almost half of the women were still alive. Of those that did die more then two thirds of them died from heart disease or other causes at an average age of 83.

Those women who were most likely to die from breast cancer are those who were diagnosed at a younger age and those who had an estrogen receptor-negative status or a high tumor grade.

"Cancer is a big killer and is responsible for about a quarter of all deaths. However, breast cancer is not necessarily a death sentence and patients need to take care of their health to reduce their risk of dying from heart disease and other age-related diseases," study author Jennifer Patnaik, of the University of Colorado, said in a journal news release.

The bottom line? A diagnosis of breast cancer over the age of 65 is not necessarily a death sentence. Choose to be healthy by keeping you physical and emotional health strong, eat right, exercise and get regular screenings because early diagnosis saves lives.

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