Background: This study was designed to determine the surgical outcomes of gastric cancer in elderly patients. This information can help establish appropriate treatment for these patients.
Methods: A total of 1,193 patients with gastric cancer who underwent gastrectomy between 1995 and 2010 were enrolled in this retrospective study. The clinicopathologic features of 104 elderly patients (aged ≥80 years) were compared with those of 1,089 nonelderly patients.
Results: (1) Tumors located in the lower-third of the stomach, differentiated cancer, and surgery with limited lymph node dissection were more common in elderly patients. However, there was no difference in the proportion of laparoscopic gastrectomy between elderly and nonelderly patients. (2) Although surgical complication rates were similar in the two groups, the operative mortality rate was higher in elderly patients (1.9 %) than in nonelderly patients (0.7 %). (3) Elderly patients had a significantly poorer overall survival rate, whereas the disease-specific survival rates of the two groups were similar. Limited lymph node dissection did not influence the disease-specific survival rate of elderly patients. (4) The median life expectancy of elderly gastric cancer survivors was 9.8 years in patients aged 80-84 years and 6.0 years in those ≥85 years. The patients with limited lymph node dissection had slightly better prognosis.
Conclusions: The treatment results in elderly patients were comparable to those in nonelderly patients. These findings suggest that R0 resection with at least limited lymph node dissection according to Japanese guidelines should be considered, even for elderly patients.