The impact of age on complications, survival, and cause of death following colon cancer surgery

Br J Cancer. 2017 Jan;116(3):389-397. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2016.421. Epub 2017 Jan 5.


Background: Given scarce data regarding the relationship among age, complications, and survival beyond the 30-day postoperative period for oncology patients in the United States, this study identified age-related differences in complications and the rate and cause of 1-year mortality following colon cancer surgery.

Methods: The NY State Cancer Registry and Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System identified stage I-III colon cancer resections (2004-2011). Multivariable logistic regression and survival analyses assessed the relationship among age (<65, 65-74, ⩾75), complications, 1-year survival, and cause of death.

Results: Among 24 426 patients surviving >30 days, 1-year mortality was 8.5%. Older age groups had higher complication rates, and older age and complications were independently associated with 1-year mortality (P<0.0001). Increasing age was associated with a decrease in the proportion of deaths from colon cancer with a concomitant increase in the proportion of deaths from cardiovascular disease. Older age and sepsis were independently associated with higher risk of colon cancer-specific death (65-74: HR=1.59, 95% CI=1.26-2.00; ⩾75: HR=2.57, 95% CI=2.09-3.16; sepsis: HR=2.58, 95% CI=2.13-3.11) and cardiovascular disease-specific death (65-74: HR=3.72, 95% CI=2.29-6.05; ⩾75: HR=7.02, 95% CI=4.44-11.10; sepsis: HR=2.33, 95% CI=1.81-2.99).

Conclusions: Older age and sepsis are associated with higher 1-year overall, cancer-specific, and cardiovascular-specific mortality, highlighting the importance of geriatric assessment, multidisciplinary care, and cardiovascular optimisation for older patients and those with infectious complications.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cause of Death*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States