Background: Patient age has a decisive impact on the short-term postoperative results in surgery for carcinoma.
Patients and methods: This prospective multicenter study involved 75 German hospitals and 3756 patients undergoing treatment in 1999: 1447 aged under 65 years, 1847 aged 65-79 years, and 458 aged over 80 years.
Results: In the oldest patient group, there was a significantly higher proportion of extensive, localized tumors (UICC stage II: 25.9%, 28.4%, and 36.1%, respectively) and significant differences were found among the three groups in operation rates (98.8%, 98.6%, and 96.5%), resection rate (94.2%, 93.2%, and 83.9%), general postoperative complications (21.5%, 28.6%, and 41.2%), morbidity (36.5%, 42.6%, and 50.0%) and mortality (2.7%, 6.6%, and 11.8%).
Conclusion: In the elderly, locally advanced tumors, but not metastasizing tumors, are to be expected. The increase in postoperative morbidity and mortality rates with increasing age was due to the increase in general postoperative complications. Surgery for colorectal carcinoma in patients of advanced age is not associated with any increase in intraoperative or specific postoperative complications.