Elderly patients have increased perioperative morbidity and mortality from oesophagectomy for oesophageal cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis



Kamarajah SK, Gujjuri RR, Elhadi M, Umar H, Bundred JR, Subramanya MS, Evans RP, Powell SL, Griffiths EA.


Eur J Surg Oncol. 2021 Aug;47(8):1828-1835. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2021.02.030. Epub 2021 Mar 27.


BACKGROUND: Although oesophagectomy remains technically challenging and associated with high morbidity and mortality, it is now increasingly performed in an ever-ageing population with improvement in perioperative care. However, the risks in the elderly population are poorly quantified. The study aims to review the current evidence to quantify further the postoperative risk of oesophagectomy for cancer in the elderly population compared to younger patients. METHOD: A systematic literature search of PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library databases was conducted including studies reporting oesophagectomy for cancer in the elderly population. A meta-analysis was reported in accordance with the recommendations of the Cochrane Library and PRISMA guidelines. Primary outcome was overall complications and secondary outcomes were pulmonary and cardiac complications, anastomotic leaks, overall and disease-free survival. RESULTS: This review identified 37 studies incorporating 30,836 patients. Increasing age was significantly associated with increased rates of overall complications (OR 1.67, CI(95%): 1.42-1.96), pulmonary complications (OR 1.87, CI(95%): 1.48-2.35), and cardiac complications (OR: 2.22, CI(95%): 1.95-2.53). However, there was no increased risk of anastomotic leak (OR: 0.98, CI(95%): 0.85-1.18). Elderly patients were significantly more likely to have lower rates of 5-year overall survival (OR: 1.36, CI(95%): 1.11-1.66) and 5-year disease-free survival (OR: 1.72, CI(95%): 1.51-1.96). CONCLUSION: Elderly patients undergoing oesophagectomy for cancer are at increased risk of overall, pulmonary and cardiac complications, irrespective of age subgroups, albeit no difference in anastomotic leaks. Therefore, they represent high-risk patients warranting implementation of preoperative pathways such as prehabilitation to improve cardiopulmonary fitness prior to surgery, although benefit of prehabilitation is yet to be proven. This information will also aid future pre-operative counselling and informed consent. CI – Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd, BASO ~ The Association for Cancer Surgery, and the European Society of Surgical Oncology. All rights reserved.

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Link/DOI: 10.1016/j.ejso.2021.02.030