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Seeking Surgery at 80? You're Not Alone

Operations on elderly patients raise questions about aggressive treatments
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2009 7:03 PM CST

(Newser) – Folks over 80 are increasingly going under the knife despite critics who say it's unethical or financially perilous, the Sacramento Bee reports. New medical technology has persuaded doctors to violate tradition and perform operations like cancer and open-heart surgery on octogenarians. But one doctor has sparked controversy by saying patients over 80 should be turned away to save Medicare.

Operations for the elderly "is considered progress, and it's considered ageism to be skeptical," says Dr. Daniel Callahan, co-founder of a bioethics think tank. But advocates say it's not that simple. “We are not advocating, wholesale, that everyone at 80 with bladder cancer should have their bladder out,” one urologist says. “But just because you’re 80 does not mean that you should not have surgery.”
(Read more health care stories.)

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