Background: Disparities in healthcare for the elderly are understudied, despite the increasing proportion of patients over 80 years of age. Advanced age is a principal risk factor for colorectal adenocarcinoma, but there are few data to guide treatment in the elderly patient population. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of prospectively gathered data on 10,433 patients diagnosed with primary colon tumors between 1998 and 2004. We compared demographics, stage at diagnosis, and initial treatment between patients younger than 80 years and those age 80 years or older. Results: Patients who were ≥80 years old made up 30% of the database. Older patients were less likely to have colectomy for advanced or metastatic disease than younger patients. Patients who were ≥80 years of age had fewer lymph nodes removed than younger patients (11 vs 10, P <.01). Older patients were significantly less likely to receive chemotherapy for every stage of colon cancer than younger patients. When older patients did get chemotherapy, it was more likely to be with a single agent. Multivariate analysis revealed that predictors of receiving chemotherapy for patients ≥80 years of age include living in an urban county, younger age, and worse stage at diagnosis. Conclusions: Older patients make up a large portion of the patients treated for colon cancer and are treated less aggressively. While some of the treatment difference may be explained by medical factors, demographic factors affect treatment decisions as well.
- Colon cancer
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