Breast Cancer Treatment in Senior Citizens

Until recently, most older women with breast cancer, 65 and up, were not getting the same aggressive treatment as younger women. But, that's all changing according to a leading East Texas oncologist.

Age alone is no longer a factor in many life-saving trials and breast cancer treatments.

"Statistics show, but you don't think it is going to happen to you," says Marilyn Budde, a cancer patient.  "I have always been in such wonderful health."

A vibrant, healthy woman all her life, Marilyn Budde never thought, even at 66, she'd find herself in this chair.

"This time I found a lump and it was different and this time I knew immediately," says Marilyn.

It was breast cancer. Now a patient at the tyler cancer center, Marilyn's undergoing aggressive treatment.

"Breast cancer starts peeking about 55-60. It's really going up and that's the age group we should be targeting," says Dr. Svetislava Vukelja, Tyler Cancer Center. But a few year's ago Dr. Vukelja says Marilyn's age most likely would have excluded her from life saving treatments.

"Most of them were not even offered some of the treatment like the clinical trials," says Dr. Svetislava Vukelja, Tyler Cancer Center. "There was always a limit on age not over 60, not over 65 and definitely not over 70 and now they are changing that saying its a discrimination of the primary investigator."

Dr. V, as she's fondly known by her patients, says seniors really need to stay health conscious like Marilyn doing regular self breast exams and getting mammograms.

"There is a lot of therapy out there and this is a curable disease that's why early detection is important," says Dr. Vukelja.

"I really think the key to all of this is to know that you are doing things that are going to make you well," says Marilyn. "And to be as positive as you can about it."

Marilyn encourages other seniors like herself with breast cancer to consider a trial treatment, not only because it helps humanity, but because it could cure cancer.

You can learn more about breast cancer breakthroughs by attending the Tyler Breast Cancer Conference.

The conference starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Wisenbaker Conference Center at Trinity Mother Frances Friday, March 27th.

It lasts until 8:30.

Dana Dixon Reporting.