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Eur J Cancer. 2007 Oct;43(15):2279-84. Epub 2007 Sep 27.

Management and survival of colorectal cancer in the elderly in population-based studies.

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Burgundy Cancer Registry, INSERM UMR 866 and CHU Dijon, Faculté de Médecine, BP 87900, 20179 Dijon Cedex, France. <>


Colorectal cancer is a major problem in elderly patients. Most data on the management and survival of colorectal cancer has been provided by specialised hospital units and as such cannot be used as reference because of unavoidable selection bias. Cancer registries recording data on treatment and survival at a population level represent the best valuable resource to assess the management of patients. However, there is a paucity of reports published in the literature due to the difficulty to routinely collect such data. Relative survival rates in the elderly were lower than in younger patients. However, the gap that has separated younger from elderly patients is closing. Stage at diagnosis remains the major determinant of prognosis. There is also large variation in survival within countries: survival rates being dramatically lower in Eastern European countries, compared to Western European countries. Comorbidity, which is particularly frequent in the elderly, increases the complexity of cancer management and affects survival. Substantial improvement in the care of colorectal cancer in the elderly has been achieved (increase in the proportion of patients resected for cure, decrease in operative mortality, improvement in stage at diagnosis). Surgery should not be restricted on the basis of age alone. Further improvements can be made, in particular with respect to adjuvant therapy.

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