Results of pulmonary resection for lung cancer in Norway, patients older than 70 years

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2005 Feb;27(2):325-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcts.2004.11.006.


Objective: Surgical resection for lung cancer is the mainstay of curative treatment, but studies regarding postoperative results and long term outcome in the elderly have differed. The purpose of the present study was to assess the early and long-term results of surgical resection in patients more than 70 years of age.

Methods: In Norway all clinical and pathologic departments submit reports on cancer patients to the Cancer Registry of Norway. This investigation included all patients more than 70 years of age resected for lung cancer in the time period 1993-2000. For results of long-time follow-up only patients operated on between 1993 and 1998 were included.

Results: A total of 763 patients (541 men) were identified aged 71-87 years. Postoperative mortality rate was 9%, highest after bilobectomy and pneumonectomy. The most commonly reported causes of postoperative death were pneumonia and cardiac complications. The majority of patients had tumor categorized as clinical stage (cStage) Ia and Ib. More than 100 in each of these groups proved to have more advanced disease postoperatively (pStage). The 5-year relative survival rate was significantly better in patients with disease in pStage I compared to higher stages. Women had a significantly better 5-year survival rate compared to men, 62.8 and 35.7%, respectively.

Conclusions: Lung cancer surgery appears to be a relatively safe procedure even in the elderly. There is a high postoperative mortality after bilobectomy and pneumonectomy. However, when old people survive the postoperative period the long term prognosis seems favorable.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / surgery*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Pneumonectomy / methods
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome