Purpose: Risks and benefits of colorectal cancer resection in octogenarians are not clearly defined. This study aimed to assess the relationship between morbidity and mortality within 1 year after colorectal cancer resection in octogenarians compared with other age groups. Methods: A single-institution, prospectively maintained database was queried to identify patients with sporadic, pathological stages I–III colorectal adenocarcinoma, electively undergoing radical resection with curative intent between 2000 and 2012. Patients were divided into three age groups: ‘octogenarians’ if ≥80 years of age; ‘intermediate’ if ≥65 and <80 years of age; and ‘younger’ if <65 years of age. Results: Overall, 2485 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria—326 in the octogenarian age group, 949 in the intermediate age group, and 1210 in the younger age group. Postoperative morbidity disproportionally increased 1-year mortality in octogenarians when compared with the younger age group (37 vs. 6.5 %; p < 0.001). Anastomotic leak, abdominopelvic abscess, reoperation, and readmission rates were comparable among different age groups, but were associated with a disproportionate risk of 1-year mortality in octogenarians (67, 43, 33, and 41 %, respectively). Multivariate analysis indicated that older age and postoperative complications were the only two independent variables associated with 30- and 90-day mortality. Besides these, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and pathological stage III were additional independent variables associated with 1-year mortality. An interaction test confirmed that age and postoperative complications were independent variables, with additive effect on 30-day, 90-day, and 1-year mortality. Conclusions: Age plays an important and independent role in affecting mortality when complications occur following surgery for colorectal cancer. The full magnitude of postoperative risks should be taken into consideration when discussing colorectal cancer surgery in octogenarians.
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