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Volume 10 Supplement 1

de Senectute: Age and Health Forum

  • Meeting abstract
  • Open Access

Our experience in surgery for colorectal cancer in elderly patients

  • 1,
  • 1,
  • 1,
  • 1,
  • 1 and
  • 1
BMC Geriatrics201010 (Suppl 1) :A17

  • Published:


  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Elderly Patient
  • Colon Cancer
  • Anastomotic Leak
  • Transverse Colon


The effectiveness of surgery for colorectal cancer depends on it being carried out safely, which allows most patients to return to productive lives. Since colorectal cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in elderly people [1], this study was designed to evaluate the outcomes of surgery in elderly patients.

Materials and methods

In the period 1973-2003, in our institution, we surgically managed 931 patients for colorectal cancer; 48 patients, 28 males and 20 females, aged 80 years and over (mean age 83.7 years). The tumor was located in the left colon in 20 cases (41.6%), in the rectum in 11 (22.9%) and in the right colon in 17 patients (35.4%). 33 patients (68.7%) were treated with colonic resection and primary anastomosis, 8 (16.6%) with Hartmann resection, 5 (10.4%) with colostomy, 1 (2%) with abdominal perineal resection and 1 (2%) with anastomosis between ileum and transverse colon without resection. The stage was A in 7 patients, B in 22, C in12 and D in 7.


The operative mortality rate was 0. The infection of the surgical wound occurred in 10 patients, whereas 4 cases of bronchopneumonia took place (8.3%). We had also registered 1 anastomotic leak in a male patient with left colon cancer (2.08%). The median hospital stay was 13.1 days (range 9-22 days) and the 5 year survival was 56.2% (27/48). No patients had adjuvant therapy


This study demonstrates that surgery should not be denied to elderly patients with colorectal cancer; age is not a limitation for surgery, tumour stage and co-morbidity define the surgical treatment [2]. The morbidity and mortality figures for elective procedures are not different from the younger age population and favourable long-term outcome can be achieved by resectional surgery [3]. Diagnostic methods, rate of curative operations performed, staging, morbidity rate and 5-year survival rate are similar to younger patients. Finally the behaviour of colorectal carcinoma does not change with age and the age has no effect on the long-term survival of elderly patients.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Surgical Sciences, Organ Transplantation and Advanced Technologies, University of Catania, Catania, Italy, 95100, Italy


  1. Smith JJ, Lee J, Burke C, Contractor KB, Dawson PM: Major colorectal cancer resection should not be denied to the elderly. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2002, 28: 661-666. 10.1053/ejso.2002.1265.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  2. Colorectal Cancer Collaborative Group: Surgery for colorectal cancer in elderly patients. A systematic review. Lancet. 2000, 356: 968-974. 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)02713-6.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  3. Devon KM, Vergara-Fernandez O, Victor JC, McLeod RS: Colorectal cancer surgery in elderly patients. Presentation, Treatment, and Outcomes. Dis Colon Rectum. 2009, 52: 1272-1277.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar


© Mosca et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2010

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.