Pancreatic lymphoma: Is it a surgical disease?

Kevin E. Behrns, Michael G. Sarr, John G. Strickler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Primary pancreatic lymphoma is a rare neoplasm that reportedly regresses promptly with aggressive chemotherapy. Recently, the role of surgical management has been relegated to biopsy alone. The aim of this study was to review our experience with primary pancreatic lymphoma and to determine the outcome of patients managed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. From 1952 to 1991, 107 patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma involving the pancreas were identified. Twelve patients (11%) had primary pancreatic lymphoma. The presenting symptoms and signs were nonspecific: Abdominal pain (83%), weight loss (50%), and a palpable mass (58%). Six of the 12 patients (50%) undergoing celiotomy had a pre-operative diagnosis of pancreatic carcinoma. These lymphomas were large (x = 8 ± 2 cm) and deemed unresectable because of size, alleged mesenteric vessel encroachment, regional lymph node metastasis, or because of an intraoperative diagnosis of lymphoma. Biopsy alone was performed in 50% of patients and biliary bypass and/or gastroenterostomy was performed in 25% of patients. A single resection (pancreatoduodenectomy) was performed 1 year after a full course of chemotherapy had failed. Ten patients, all of whom died of progressive lymphoma, received primary postoperative radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, and no patient was disease-free at follow-up. Mean survival was 13 months for patients who received chemotherapy alone (n = 2), 22 months for those treated with radiation therapy only (n = 5), and 26 months for those receiving combined radiation therapy and chemotherapy (n = 3). In view of the poor survival with radiation therapy and chemotherapy and the decreased morbidity and mortality of pancreatectomy in recent years, a more aggressive surgical approach including pancreatic resection or tumor debulking should be adopted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-667
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1994


  • Chemother-apy
  • Extranodal lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreatic lymphoma
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Pancreatic lymphoma: Is it a surgical disease?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this