Background: As life expectancy is increasing, the use of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in the elderly is gaining interest. The aim of this study was to identify the impact of minimally invasive gastrectomy by comparing the procedure to open surgery in octogenarians. In addition, we also evaluated the role of gastrectomy in elderly gastric cancer patients by assessing long-term outcomes. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed data from 99 gastric cancer patients aged 80 years or older, who underwent gastrectomy by either MIS or open surgery from 2005 to 2010. Patient characteristics, operative outcomes, pathologic results, morbidity, mortality, and follow-up data (including survival) were compared. Results: Thirty patients underwent gastrectomy with MIS (19 laparoscopic and 11 robotic) and 69 patients underwent open gastrectomy. MIS demonstrated significantly less blood loss, lower analgesic consumption, faster time to first flatus and soft diet, and a shorter post-operative hospital stay. Multivariate analysis revealed that the type of operation had no effect on the occurrence of complications. There were two postoperative mortalities, both in the open group. Excluding these patients, the overall and disease-specific 5-year survival rates were 57.4 and 70.0 %, respectively. The overall (MIS 70.0 %; open 52.0 %) and disease-specific (MIS 81.8 %; open 65.1 %) 5-year survival rates were similar for the two groups. When we analyzed the 85 patients underwent curative resection only, the overall (MIS 71.4 %; open 58.4 %) and disease-specific (MIS 84.1 %; open 73.6 %) 5-year survival rates were similar for the two groups. Conclusions: MIS for gastric cancer may be performed safely and maintains the advantages of minimal invasiveness, even in extremely old patients. Furthermore, gastrectomy by either by MIS or open surgery can reduce gastric cancer-related deaths, even in patients 80 years or older.
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