Palliative care access in the elderly metastatic breast cancer population: obstacles and opportunities

Taylor MacDonald, Vignesh Krishnan, William Alexander Wilson


Metastatic breast cancer in the elderly encompasses a group of patients with worse cancer-specific survival and more barriers to care than their non-elderly counterparts. Metastatic breast cancer has a longer natural history than many other common metastatic solid tumors. Palliative care access in this group is thus affected by increased need from (I) more aggressive disease status with more severe symptoms, (II) increased barriers to care, (III) more patients living with the disease than other metastatic solid tumors, and (IV) increased incidence of breast cancer as compared to other solid tumors. This review outlines the rationale for outpatient palliative care, the needs for this specific population of cancer patients, and the barriers that the medical community faces in providing palliative care access for these patients.