Under-investigation of older people with abnormal chest radiographs
Gosney, M. A. (2005) Under-investigation of older people with abnormal chest radiographs. Gerontology, 51 (1). pp. 1-6. ISSN 0304-324X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1159/000081427
Background: Whilst many authors have previously suggested that older people are under-represented in the investigation and management of lung cancer, few data are available as to the effect of age on the subsequent investigation and management of a patient with an abnormal chest radiograph. Methods: During a 3-month period in a university teaching hospital, all abnormal chest radiographs suggestive of a possible diagnosis of lung cancer were identified, and patients subsequently followed to determine investigation, management and date of death over a 5-year period. Results: Thirty-seven younger (less than or equal to69 years, median age 62 years) and 43 older patients ( 670 years, median age 80 years) were identified. Of the 80 patients with a possible bronchial carcinoma only 59% had a further chest radiograph performed. Bronchoscopy was performed in 34% of patients, but a biopsy of the lesion was undertaken in only 24% of patients. Sixteen of the 80 patients, irrespective of what investigations had been undertaken, were referred for an oncological or surgical opinion. During the study period ( 3 months), 24% of the patients died. At 6, 24 and 60 months, respectively, the total deaths were 40, 78 and 88%. Conclusion: Older patients compared with those aged less than 70 years were less likely to be investigated, further, were more likely to be managed differently (i.e., less aggressively) and more likely to die within each time interval. In more of the older group a presumed death certificate diagnosis of pneumonia was made. When an abnormal chest radiograph raises the possibility of an underlying bronchial carcinoma, the finding of this study suggests that an ageist attitude influences the subsequent management of some patients. Copyright (C) 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.