Carcinoma of the body and tail of the pancreas: Is curative resection justified?

R. R. Dalton, M. G. Sarr, J. A. Van Heerden, T. V. Colby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Background. The role of resection in the treatment of carcinoma of the distal pancreas remains unclear. The less frequent occurrence of tumor in the distal gland, advanced tumor stage at diagnosis, and a lack of reported success have combined to produce therapeutic nihilism in the minds of many surgeons. The goal of this review was to assess long-term survival after distal pancreatectomy for carcinoma of the pancreas. Methods. The records of all patients undergoing distal pancreatectomy at the Mayo Clinic for a primary pancreatic malignant tumor during the 25-year period from 1963 to 1987 were reviewed. Forty-four patients undergoing potentially curative distal pancreatectomies were identified: 26 patients for ductal adenocarcinoma, 12 patients for islet cell carcinoma, and six patients for cystadenocarcinoma. Results. Major postoperative morbidity occurred in 9% of the patients and operative death in 2% of the patients. Patients with ductal adenocarcinoma frequently were admitted with advanced disease (stage II or III). The median overall survival for patients with ductal adenocarcinoma was 10 months. Fifteen percent of the patients survived 2 years after operation, and 8% of the patients survived 5 years. In contrast, the 5-year survival after resection of islet cell carcinomas and cystadenocarcinomas was excellent (83% and 100%, respectively). Conclusion. The prognosis for patients with ductal adenocarcinoma in the distal pancreas who were treated with potentially curative distal pancreatectomy is poor; however, the results are not substantially different from those reported after pancreaticoduodenectomy for malignant tumors of the proximal pancreas. Some patients with adenocarcinoma of the distal pancreas who were treated with resection may be long-term survivors. We recommend resection of carcinoma of the distal pancreas when the disease is limited to the gland and believe that all patients with ductal adenocarcinoma should be considered for postoperative adjuvant radiation and chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-494
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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