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Dis Colon Rectum. 2004 Dec;47(12):2064-9.

Are survival rates different for young and older patients with rectal cancer?

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Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.



Although it is generally believed that young patients with rectal cancer have worse survival rates, no comprehensive analysis has been reported. This study uses a national-level, population-based cancer registry to compare rectal cancer outcomes between young vs. older populations.


All patients with rectal carcinoma in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer database from 1991 to 1999 were evaluated. Young (range, 20-40 years; n = 466) and older groups (range, 60-80 years; n = 11,312) were compared for patient and tumor characteristics, treatment patterns, and five-year overall and stage-specific survival. Cox multivariate regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of survival.


Mean ages for the groups were 34.1 and 70 years. The young group was comprised of more black and Hispanic patients compared with the older group (P < 0.001). Young patients were more likely to present with late-stage disease (young vs. older: Stage III, 27 vs. 20 percent respectively, P < 0.001; Stage IV, 17.4 vs. 13.6 percent respectively, P < 0.02). The younger group also had worse grade tumors (poorly differentiated 24.3 vs. 14 percent respectively, P < 0.001). Although the majority of both groups received surgery (85 percent for each), significantly more young patients received radiation (P < 0.001). Importantly, overall and stage-specific, five-year survival rates were similar for both groups (P = not significant).


Although previous studies have found young rectal cancer patients to have poorer survival compared with older patients, this population-based study shows that young rectal cancer patients seem to have equivalent overall and stage-specific survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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