A study found that senior adults who had cancer surgery are more prone to injuries and health issues compared to younger patients. These include post-surgery complications, bed sores and falls that can result in higher health-related expenses and/or death.

The researchers say the health-related issues post-surgeries should be solved to lower the risks for injuries and death among senior cancer patients. In the United States, about one in 10 cancer surgery patients who are beyond 54 years old are at risk.

"With even higher rates observed among the very old, patients 75 and older - the fastest-growing segment of the population - geriatric events during cancer-related surgery are likely to become even more prevalent," says urologic oncology researcher Dr. Hung-Jui Tan from the University of Southern California.

The researchers studied the data of 939,150 cancer patients who had surgery. The Nationwide Inpatient Sample data were collected from 2009 to 2011. For the study, the patients were divided into two age bracket groups: aged 55 to 64 and aged 65 and above.

Among all the study participants, about 9.2 percent experienced a health issue after their cancer surgeries. These health issues were more prevalent in patients aged 75 and above.

Senior cancer patients who experienced health complications post-surgery also had higher risks for simultaneous conditions. They also accumulated higher costs and clocked in more hospital admissions. The chances of being sent to care facilities were also higher in this group. Lastly, findings showed an increased risk of dying before a recovery.

"The findings highlight the importance for older patients to discuss these potential events with their doctors as they prepare for surgery," notes Tan.

The team notes that their research relied on administrative claims data. Since the data is designed for billing purposes, the data might not effectively document the severity of the senior patient's health condition.

Moreover, some of the post-surgery health issues could have stemmed from previous conditions especially those prior to their cancer surgeries. The research doesn't claim that old age directly triggers the post-surgery problems, but the findings suggest that both doctors and patients should look into the potential risks to come up with the best possible decision when it comes to treatment.

The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on Feb. 16.

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