The gap in postoperative outcome between older and younger patients with stage I-III colorectal cancer has been bridged; results from the Netherlands cancer registry


      • Differences in mortality between older and younger CRC patients decreased.
      • One-year relative survival became nearly equal for older and younger patients.
      • Previous literature is no longer representative of the current clinical practice.


      Aim of the study

      Previous studies have shown that older patients benefited less than younger patients from surgical treatment for colorectal cancer (CRC). However, CRC care has advanced over time, and it is time to assess whether the difference in postoperative mortality between older and younger CRC patients is still present.


      Patients with primary stage I-III CRC diagnosed between 2005 and 2016 were selected from the Netherlands Cancer Registry (N = 111,778). Trends in postoperative mortality and 1-year postoperative relative survival (RS) were analysed, stratified according to age (<75 versus ≥75 years) and tumour location (colon versus rectum). One-year postoperative RS was analysed to correct for background mortality in the older population.


      Between 2005 and 2016, 30-day postoperative mortality showed a stronger decrease for older patients (from 10.0% to 4.0% for colon cancer [p < 0.001] and from 8.3% to 2.7% for rectal cancer [p < 0.001]) compared with younger patients (from 2.0% to 0.9% for colon cancer [p < 0.001] and from 1.4% to 0.7% for rectal cancer [p = 0.01]). Between 2005 and 2016, also 1-year RS increased more for older patients (from 84.8% to 94.6% for colon cancer and from 86.1% to 97.2% for rectal cancer) compared with younger patients (from 94.0% to 97.8% for colon cancer and from 96.3% to 98.8% for rectal cancer).


      Between 2005 and 2016, differences in postoperative mortality between older and younger CRC patients decreased. One-year postoperative RS was almost equal for older and younger patients in 2015–2016. This information is crucial for shared decision-making on surgical treatment.


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