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Outcomes in elderly patients following surgery for colorectal cancer in the veterans affairs healthcare system


Aim — To compare 30-day and 5-year mortality in elderly vs. younger patients following surgical resection for colorectal cancer.

Methods — A cohort study of patients admitted to VA hospitals with a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer who underwent surgical resection between October 1990 and September 2000. Cumulative survival rates (30-day and 5-year) were calculated from Kaplan–Meier estimates and adjusted risks of death were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models.

Results — We identified 34 888 individuals with a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer between October 1990 and September 2000, of whom 22 633 (65%) underwent surgical resection. The 30-day mortality following resection for rectal and colon cancer, respectively, for patients <65 years was 2.1 and 2.8% compared with 4.9 and 5.6% for those ≥65 years. The 5-year cumulative survival for rectal and colon cancer for patients <65 years was 54.0 and 57.6% compared with 44.5 and 46.6% for those ≥65 years. In patients ≥65 years with rectal or colon cancer, after adjustment, 30-day mortality was 2inline image times greater and 5-year mortality was 1inline image times greater than in younger patients.

Conclusions — Older age is an independent predictor of increased short-term and long-term mortality following surgery in patients with rectal and colon cancer.



Rabeneck L, Davila J, Thompson M, El-Serag HB. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2004; 20(10):1115-24.

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