• Between 1981 and 1986, 140 patients over 80 years of age were operated on for a gastrointestinal tract tumor in our service. There were 24 gastric, one small-bowel, 91 colonic, and 24 rectal cancers. Only 40% of the patients were preoperatively free of any systemic disorder other than tumor. We performed surgical procedures with a curative intent for 90 (64%) of them. Our mean overall postoperative mortality was 17%, but this rate could be decreased by performing elective operations on well-prepared patients. Over 80% of the deaths were related to systemic organ failures. Eighty-three percent of the survivors (96 patients) returned to their homes; 82% (94 patients) had normal activities for their age. The actuarial survival curve showed a 50% survival rate at three years, all tumoral stages included. These results support the view that surgery is a safe, valid option in the face of gastrointestinal tract tumors in the elderly.
(Arch Surg 1989;124:662-664)