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Br J Surg. 1994 May;81(5):736-8.

Prognosis of elderly patients with large bowel cancer.

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Gastroenterology and Liver Unit, St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.


The effect of age on the presentation, diagnosis, management and survival of patients with colorectal cancer was studied prospectively in 512 patients admitted to a single institution. In all, 225 patients were aged 70 years or more and 287 less than 70 years. Older patients had a significant excess of emergency presentations (18 versus 11 per cent). Methods of diagnosis, proportion of curative operations performed, stage and histological grade were similar in the two age groups. The postoperative mortality rate was 6 per cent in the elderly group and 3 per cent in younger patients. The postoperative mortality rate rose to 15 and 12 per cent respectively in those undergoing emergency surgery. The relative 5-year survival rate standardized for age and sex was 52 per cent for older patients and 45 per cent for younger patients; for those undergoing curative surgery it was 68 and 59 per cent respectively. The behaviour of colorectal carcinoma changes little with age and, allowing for population mortality, age has no effect on the long-term survival of elderly patients with large bowel cancer.

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