(HealthDay News) — Unplanned hospitalizations among elderly patients with gastrointestinal cancer are common, according to research published online Oct. 6 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Joanna-Grace M. Manzano, M.D., from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed data from the Texas Cancer Registry and Medicare claims to identify Texas residents (age, ≥66 years) initially diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer (2001 to 2007; 30,199 individuals). Unplanned hospitalizations were assessed.

The researchers found that 59 percent of the identified patients had one or more unplanned hospitalizations (93 events per 100 person-years). Fluid and electrolyte disorders, intestinal obstruction, and pneumonia were the most common reasons for unplanned hospitalization. The risk for unplanned hospitalizations was increased by the following factors: black race; residing in census tracts with poverty levels greater than 13.3 percent; esophageal, gastric, and pancreatic cancer; advanced disease stage; high Charlson comorbidity index score; and dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid (all P values < 0.05).

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“Some of the top reasons for unplanned hospitalization are potentially preventable, suggesting that comorbidity management and close coordination among involved health care providers should be promoted,” the authors write.

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