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Ann Thorac Surg. 1997 Jan;63(1):193-7.

Non-small cell lung cancer at the extremes of age: impact on diagnosis and treatment.

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Department of Surgery, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH 03756-0001, USA.



Early detection and surgical resection offers the highest likelihood of cure for patients with lung cancer. Patients presenting at the extremes of age may fail to benefit maximally from these interventions. To study the impact of age on stage, histology, symptom, and treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer, we undertook a retrospective review.


One thousand eight hundred two patients with non-small cell lung cancer were identified between 1983 and 1993. Patients were selected by age as less than 45 years (55 patients) and 80 years or more (108 patients), and their medical records were reviewed.


Three younger patients (6%) presented with stage I or II disease, yet 15 (32%) underwent thoracic operation. Twenty-seven elderly patients (33%) presented with early stage disease and only 6% underwent operation. The median survival was significantly longer for the younger population with surgically resectable stages of disease (stage I to IIIA) (p < 0.05), whereas no significant difference in survival was seen for the two groups with advanced disease (stage IIIB and IV).


Age significantly affects the presentation and treatment of non-small cell lung cancer patients. Although thoracic operation imparts the greatest survival advantage, this benefit is diminished due to advanced disease in the younger patients and lack of surgical intervention in the elderly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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