Background: Morbidity and mortality of pancreatectomy has improved and chemotherapeutic options for pancreatic cancer (PC) are growing, yet there is reluctance to treat octogenarians. This study examined the reasons for failure to treat and analyzes outcomes in octogenarians with PC. Methods: Retrospective chart review 2005–2013. Demographics, tumor characteristics, treatment, reason for lack of treatment, Charlson comorbidity index (CCI), and survival were analyzed. Expected treatment for early-stage patients (I/II) included surgery ± chemotherapy ± radiation. Expected treatment for advanced stage patients (III/IV) was chemotherapy. Results: A total of 431 octogenarians were analyzed. Mean age was 84.0 ± 3.4, 59.6 % female, and 44.1 % received no treatment. Patients with operable tumors (I = 31 [7.2 %]/II = 214 [49.7 %]) had surgery 39.2 % of the time. Age was a predictor of not receiving surgery (odds ratio [OR] 0.78; 95 % confidence interval [CI] 0.70–0.86; p = 0.0001), whereas CCI was not. The most common reason for no surgery was contraindication despite similar CCI. Median overall survival for early-stage patients was better in the surgical group (15.8 vs. 5.5 months) than nonsurgical group (p < 0.0001). Advanced patients (III = 54 [12.5 %]/IV = 132 [30.6 %]) had similarly low treatment rates (n = 65 [34.9 %]). Survival for advanced disease was best for treated patients (6.9 vs. 1.8 months; p < 0.0001). CCI did not differ between those receiving chemotherapy and not, although age was significantly different (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: There is significant deviation from expected treatment for octogenarians with PC. While no correlation existed between CCI and treatment, age correlated with therapy for nearly all stages. Chronological age, not comorbidity, may drive recommendation for treatment in elderly patients.
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