Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Lifetime Incidence of Brain Metastasis in Elderly Survivors of Breast Cancer

By: Andrew Goldstein
Posted: Monday, June 24, 2019

Based on data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results and Medicare claims, Jill S. Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD, of the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the incidence of synchronous brain metastases and lifetime brain metastases in survivors of breast cancer. The researchers said the study results, which were published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, could influence future screening and surveillance practices.

“With an aging U.S. population, the number of people with brain metastasis is increasing, although sometimes that metastasis does not occur until many years after the initial cancer diagnosis,” said Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan, in a press release from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

The study included data on 67,362 patients with breast cancer who were 65 years of age or older. The incidence proportion of synchronous brain metastases in these patients was 0.3%, whereas the incidence proportion for lifetime brain metastases was 1.8%. The rate of brain metastasis was lowest for survivors of localized breast tumors and highest for those whose cancer had already metastasized to another site. The greatest incidence proportion of synchronous brain metastasis (0.7%) occurred among patients with triple-negative breast cancer.

Dr. Ascha and colleagues concluded that these and other population-based estimates could be used to develop a brain metastasis screening policy for elderly survivors of breast cancer. “If we can identify brain metastases earlier in their progression, that could allow for earlier treatment and improved outcomes for these patients,” commented coauthor Mustafa S. Ascha, MS, a PhD candidate, also of Case Western, in an AACR press release.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at

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