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World J Surg Oncol. 2011 Jan 27;9:10. doi: 10.1186/1477-7819-9-10.

Pancreatic cancer: surgery is a feasible therapeutic option for elderly patients.

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  • 1Department of Surgery at The Sourasky Medical, Tel-Aviv, Israel. guyla@tasmc.health.gov.il



Compromised physiological reserve, comorbidities, and the natural history of pancreatic cancer may deny pancreatic resection from elderly patients. We evaluated outcomes of elderly patients amenable to pancreatic surgery.


The medical records of all patients who underwent pancreatic resection at our institution (1995-2007) were retrospectively reviewed. Patient, tumor, and outcomes characteristics in elderly patients aged ≥ 70 years were compared to a younger cohort (<70 y).


Of 460 patients who had surgery for pancreatic neoplasm, 166 (36%) aged ≥ 70 y. Compared to patients < 70 y (n = 294), elderly patients had more associated comorbidities; 72% vs. 43% (p = 0.01) and a higher rate of malignant pathologies; 73% vs. 59% (p = 0.002). Operative time and blood products consumption were comparable; however, elderly patients had more post-operative complications (41% vs. 29%; p = 0.01), longer hospital stay (26.2 vs. 19.7 days; p < 0.0001), and a higher incidence of peri-operative mortality (5.4% vs. 1.4%; p = 0.01). Multivariable analysis identified age ≥ 70 y as an independent predictor of shorter disease-specific survival (DSS) among patients who had surgery for pancreatic adenocarcinoma (n = 224). Median DSS for patients aged ≥ 70 y vs. < 70 y were 15 months (SE: 1.6) vs. 20 months (SE: 3.4), respectively (p = 0.05). One, two, and 5-Y DSS rates for the cohort of elderly patients were 58%, 36% and 23%, respectively.


Properly selected elderly patients can undergo pancreatic resection with acceptable post-operative morbidity and mortality rates. Long term survival is achievable even in the presence of adenocarcinoma and therefore surgery should be seriously considered in these patients.

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