• bladder cancer;
  • radical cystectomy;
  • age;
  • elderly

Study Type – Therapy (cohort)

Level of Evidence 2b

What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?

Elderly patients have more years to compound comorbidities and it has previously been shown that comorbidity is an important predictor of overall survival in patients with bladder cancer, including those treated with radical cystectomy (RC). Other studies have also demonstrated higher stage at diagnosis, higher rate of upstaging on final pathology and a longer delay to definitive therapy for older patients. Because of these findings, elderly patients are being offered RC less often than younger patients. Whether or not this practice is justified has come under recent scrutiny and there has been much conflicting data in the literature. While some studies have shown worse outcomes for elderly patients, others have shown similar results for both elderly and younger patients.

Large population-based databases have recently been used to try to determine whether age effects outcome after RC but their conclusions may not be as generalizable as ours for several reasons: billing code data was used to build patient cohorts, patients were generally recipients of Medicare, lack of pathological review, and lack of available and accurate clinical data. Our series is unique in that it comprises a large group of patients from two major tertiary care academic institutions using a very robust dataset. Pathological specimens were reviewed by dedicated genitourinary pathologists, including those recovered from peripheral hospitals. Our sample size is one of the largest single- or multi-institutional studies.


  • • 
    To analyse the impact of patient age on survival after radical cystectomy (RC).


  • • 
    After ethics review board approval, two databases of patients with bladder cancer (BC) undergoing RC at the University Heath Network, Toronto, Canada (1992–2008) and the University of Turku, Turku, Finland (1986–2005) were retrospectively analysed.
  • • 
    A total of 605 patients who underwent this procedure between June 1985 and March 2010 were included.
  • • 
    Patients were divided into four age groups: ≤59, 60–69, 70–79 and ≥80 years.
  • • 
    Demographic, clinical and pathological data were compared, as well as recurrence-free survival (RFS), disease-specific survival (DSS) and overall survival (OAS) rates.


  • • 
    Compared with younger patients (age ≤79 years), elderly patients (age ≥80 years) had higher American Society of Anesthesiologists scores (P < 0.001), a greater number of lymph nodes removed during surgical dissection (P < 0.001), and underwent less adjuvant treatment (P < 0.001).
  • • 
    Choice of urinary diversion differed among the groups, with ileal conduit being used for all patients ≥80 years (P < 0.001).
  • • 
    No differences were noted between age groups with respect to RFS (P= 0.3), DSS (P= 0.4) or OAS (P= 0.4).


  • • 
    Although RC is an operation with significant morbidity, it is a viable treatment option for carefully selected elderly patients. Senior patients (≥80 years) should not be denied RC if they are deemed fit to undergo surgery.
  • • 
    Senior adults do not suffer from adverse histopathological features as compared with younger patients.