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An Age-Stratified Analysis of Early Postoperative Mortality Among Medicare-Eligible Patients With Common Gastrointestinal and Hepato-pancreato-biliary Malignancies.

American Surgeon 2024 June 6
Background: The frequency of major cancer surgery in the elderly (≥80 years) has increased concomitantly with the rise in average age of the population. We assessed early postoperative mortality following hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) and gastrointestinal (GI) procedures for common malignancies stratified by age. Methods: The National Cancer Database (2004-2017) was queried for patients who underwent resection for GI (gastroesophageal and colorectal) or HPB (pancreatic adenocarcinoma, biliary tract, and primary liver) cancers. We compared early postoperative mortality (30 d and 90 d) stratified by age (65-79 vs ≥80 years) and procedure, and compared survival outcomes by age and operative vs nonoperative management. Results: A total of 709,358 patients were included. The 30-day mortality ranged from 1.8% to 5.8% among patients 65-79 years and from 3.2% to 12.4% among patients ≥80 years depending on procedure. The 90-day mortality ranged from 3.6% to 10.6% in patients 65-79 years compared to 8.4%-21.0% among patients ≥80 years. The overall 90-day mortality was 5.2% for patients 65-79 years and 12.0% for patients ≥80 years ( P < .001). Age ≥80 was associated with worse survival among operatively managed patients with each upper GI, HPB, and lower GI malignancy relative to younger patients on multivariable analysis. However, operative management of patients ≥80 years was associated with improved survival relative to nonoperative management. Discussion: Elderly patients suffer higher postoperative mortality after major GI and HPB cancer surgery, but operative management is associated with improved survival among patients ≥80 years as compared to nonoperative management. These data are important to contextualize when counseling elderly patients on their treatment options for localized GI and HPB cancers.

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