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Chirurg. 2005 Feb;76(2):126-30.

[Thoracic surgery in the elderly].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Chirurgische Abteilung, Thoraxklinik am Universit├Ątsklinikum, Heidelberg.


In the near future, over 40% of patients with lung cancer will be over 70 years old at the time their disease is diagnosed. Age per se, however, should not lead to the denial of a potentially curative surgical intervention. It has been shown that older patients (over 70 years), as well as patients over 80 years of age, may tolerate a lobectomy or even a pneumonectomy quite well. Most patients with lung cancer are present or former smokers and have underlying pulmonary problems, especially chronic obstructive lung disease. They are at high risk of both morbidity and mortality from surgery due to significant cardiovascular disease. The indications for surgical intervention should be based on reliable preoperative tumor staging and pulmonary assessment by an experienced interdisciplinary panel of physicians, taking into consideration the individual cardiopulmonary status of the patient. This assessment, combined with the American Society of Anesthesiologists risk classification and the overall clinical assessment by the surgeon, will provide the best available evidence for carefully weighing the benefits and risks of an operation. The responsibility for this assessment must be viewed-in the case of early stage lung cancer-in relation to the relative lack of alternative treatments for surgical intervention with comparable 5-year survival rates (>50%).

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