The treatment of cancer in elderly patients has become a global clinical issue, considering the increasingly longer life expectancy. Three quarters of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma are older than 60 years. Surgical resection is the only chance of cure, and early outcome of pancreaticoduodenectomy in elderly patients is comparable with that obtained in a younger population.
During an 11-year period, 166 patients underwent curative pancreaticoduodenectomy for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Clinical and demographic factors were evaluated by univariate and multivariate analyses to test their effect on early outcome.
State university medical school tertiary care center.
One hundred sixty-six patients underwent curative pancreaticoduodenectomy for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. They were divided into 2 groups according to age (group A for patients older than 70 years, group B for patients younger than 70 years).
Pancreaticoduodenectomy was performed using a Whipple procedure. An end-to-end pancreaticojejunostomy was constructed. Lymphadenectomy was carried out along the hepatoduodenal ligament, common hepatic artery, vena cava, superior mesenteric vein, and along the right side of the superior mesenteric artery. Four abdominal drainage sites were routinely used.
Main Outcome Measures
The postoperative hospital stay was calculated and morbidity and mortality were assessed.
Significantly higher operative morbidity and mortality were observed in group A (group A, 49.1% vs group B, 45.8% and 10.5% vs 3.7%, respectively). Underlying comorbid conditions in group B patients influenced postoperative morbidity but not mortality. Rate and nature of surgical complications were indicated as causes of significant higher mortality in group B patients.
An aggressive surgical approach is justified for elderly patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. However, surgical complications that lead to reoperation are responsible for a high mortality in elderly patients. In addition to general causes, such as concomitant disorders, reduced functional reserve, poor tolerance to stress, and the texture of the pancreatic remnant, there are specific prognostic factors affecting pancreaticojejunostomy leakage and related mortality.