About 45,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in England and Wales. National clinical guidelines provide health services with evidence about the best care for breast cancer, and these emphasise that treatment should be based on clinical need and fitness for treatment rather than chronological age.
There is however, evidence of variation in patterns of care among younger and older patients with breast cancer. This variation may be due to factors such as:
(i) Differences in the nature and extent of disease;
(ii) The presence of other conditions that make surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy unsuitable for older patients; or
(iii) Patient preferences and cultural values.
The aim of the NABCOP is to understand why differences arise and to identify examples of good and poor practice to inform breast cancer services about how they can improve.