Surgery of non-small cell lung cancer in the elderly

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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The aim of this review is to analyze recent evidence for optimal treatment of elderly patients with non-small cell lung cancer, focusing on surgery, and possibly to foresee the future strategies to apply in these patients. RECENT FINDINGS: Surgery in elderly patients affected by non-small cell lung cancer is safe and feasible when careful preoperative respiratory and cardiac studies have been carried out and the disease has been properly staged. The surgical treatment is not to be denied in elderly patients due to age per se, but when a major contraindication to surgery has been recognized. Long term survival for elderly patients with early stage lung cancer treated by anatomical pulmonary resection is comparable to the survival rate of younger patients. Pneumonectomy, extended surgical procedure or preoperative induction chemotherapy are major risk factors for an increased postoperative morbidity and mortality rate. When co-morbidities are present or a patient is 80 years or older, there is evidence that a non-anatomical resection can be performed without affecting long-term results. SUMMARY: Due to the aging of the general population, elderly patients will become a large percentage of the cases of non-small cell lung cancer to be treated. Implementing preoperative cardiologic studies and redefining selective respiratory criteria specifically could dramatically improve results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-91
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • Elderly patients
  • Long term survival
  • Preoperative study
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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