Surgical and non-surgical complications after colorectal cancer surgery in older patients; time-trends and age-specific differences

Published:November 22, 2022DOI:



      Trends of surgical and non-surgical complications among the old, older and oldest patients after colorectal cancer (CRC) surgery could help to identify the best target outcome to further improve postoperative outcome.

      Materials and methods

      All consecutive patients ≥70 years receiving curative elective CRC resection between 2011-2019 in The Netherlands were included. Baseline variables and postoperative complications were prospectively collected by the Dutch ColoRectal audit (DCRA). We assessed surgical and non-surgical complications over time and within age categories (70–74, 75–79 and ≥ 80 years) and determined the impact of age on the risk of both types of complications by using multivariate logistic regression analyses.


      Overall, 38648 patients with a median age of 76 years were included. Between 2011-2019 the proportion of ASA score ≥3 and laparoscopic surgery increased. Non-surgical complications significantly improved between 2011 (21.8%) and 2019 (17.1%) and surgical complications remained constant (from 17.6% to16.8%). Surgical complications were stable over time for each age group. Non-surgical complications improved in the oldest two age groups. Increasing age was only associated with non-surgical complications (75–79 years; OR 1.17 (95% CI 1.10–1.25), ≥80 years; OR 1.46 (95% CI 1.37–1.55) compared to 70–74 years), not with surgical complications.


      The reduction of postoperative complications in the older CRC population was predominantly driven by a decrease in non-surgical complications. Moreover, increasing age was only associated with non-surgical complications and not with surgical complications. Future care developments should focus on non-surgical complications, especially in patients ≥75 years.



      CRC (Colorectal Cancer), CCI (Charlson comorbidity index), CGA (comprehensive geriatric), DCRA (Dutch ColoRectal Audit), ERAS (enhanced recovery after surgery)
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