The present study investigated postoperative mortality (POM), its predictors and relationship with long-term survival in patients who underwent surgery for lung cancer. The 30-day mortality after thoracotomy in 1,830 patients from the Flemish multicentre hospital-based lung cancer registry was analysed according to patient, tumour, treatment and hospital characteristics and compared with 5-yr survival figures for the same patients. Overall POM was 4.4%. In univariate analysis age, extent of surgery and low hospital volume were associated with a higher POM. In multiple regression analysis age, extent of surgery and side of the pneumonectomy proved to be independent predictors of POM. In patients aged >70 yrs who underwent right-sided pneumonectomy POM was 17.8%. Overall, mortality was comparable to published series from referral centres. Age and extent of resection are the main predictors of postoperative mortality in lung-cancer patients. In the operable elderly patient, age alone does not justify denying the survival benefit experienced by resection of lung cancer. The high mortality after right-sided pneumonectomy in elderly patients warrants caution, as the treatment benefit may become marginal.

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The European Respiratory Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Meerbeeck, J., Damhuis, R., & Vos de Wael, M. L. (2002). High postoperative risk after pneumonectomy in elderly patients with right-sided lung cancer. The European Respiratory Journal. Retrieved from