This article is part of the supplement: Selected articles from the XXV National Congress of the Italian Society of Geriatric Surgery

Open Access Research article

Major postoperative complications and survival for colon cancer elderly patients

Giuseppe Grosso1, Antonio Biondi2*, Stefano Marventano1, Antonio Mistretta1, Giorgio Calabrese3 and Francesco Basile2

Author affiliations

1 Department “G. F. Ingrassia” Section of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Catania, Via Santa Sofia 82, 95123 Catania, Italy

2 Department of General Surgery, Section of General Surgery and Oncology, University Medical School of Catania, Via Plebiscito 628, Catania 95121, Italy

3 Department of Biology, Piemonte Orientale University, Alessandria, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Surgery 2012, 12(Suppl 1):S20  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-12-S1-S20

Published: 15 November 2012



Increased life expectancy has led to elevating the mean age of the patients at the time of diagnosis of colon cancer and subsequent treatment. Differences in complication rates and outcome between elderly and younger patients have been investigated.


We retrospectively analysed a database containing the information of patients who underwent surgery for stage I-III colorectal cancer from January 2004 to January 2012 at our institution and compared demographic, cancer-related, and outcomes data of 235 elderly patients with 211 patients ≤65 years old.


Intraoperative complications did not differ between young and old patients whereas some differences have been found in postoperative and late complications: elderly patients suffered more by ileus (P = 0.024), peritonitis or septic shock (P = 0.017), pelvic abscess (P = 0.028), wound infection (P = 0.031), and incisional/port herniation (P = 0.012) compared with younger patients. Moreover, elderly patients suffered by systemic complications such as cardiovascular (4.7% vs. 1.4%, P = 0.049), renal (4.7% vs. 0.5%, P = 0.006), and respiratory (10.6% vs. 5.2%, P = 0.036). The multivariate analysis assessing the odds of having a complication revealed that older age (Odd Ratio [OR] 2.75, 95% Confidential Interval [CI]: 1.67-4.52) and open surgery (OR 1.63, 95% CI: 1.01-2.62) are significantly and independently associated with having a complication.


In our series, elderly patients have presented a slight higher incidence of comorbidities that may affect the incidence rates of postoperative complications. These results have implications in increasing the hospital stay as well as a higher rate of death.