Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

Surgery plays an important role in the management of pancreatic cancer.  It is currently the most effective treatment available for many with this condition. 

Goals of Surgery

Pancreatic cancer operations are generally used for two purposes:

  • Some operations are designed to completely remove the tumor in an attempt to cure the disease
  • Some operations are meant relieve symptoms and prevent further problems without aiming for a cure. 

Types of Surgery

Procedures can range from removing part of the pancreas to removing the entire pancreas plus parts of nearby organs that may also be affected by tumors. Types of surgery include:

  • Laparoscopy: this is a small operation to check for signs that the cancer has spread.  It can determine if a bigger operation will be helpful.
  • Whipple Procedure: this is a complex operation for tumors found in the “head” of the pancreas.  It involves removing that section of the pancreas, as well as the bile duct, gallbladder and small portions of the stomach and intestine
  • Distal Pancreatectomy: this operation involves the removal of the “tail” and “body” sections of the pancreas.
  • Central Pancreatectomy: this operation involves the removal of the “body” of the pancreas, leaving the “head” and “tail” in place. 
  • Total Pancreatectomy: this operation involves the removal of the entire pancreas.

Choosing the Right Operation

Choosing the right operation depends on the location of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the overall health of the patient.  It also requires an experienced surgeon, as pancreatic operations are some of the most complicated procedures in all of medicine.  In fact, research shows that people who have pancreatic surgery with surgeons who have performed the surgery many times do better both in the operating room and after.

Preparing for Surgery

After Surgery

Following surgery, people will sometimes have to adjust the foods they eat and the activities they participate in.  Read more about what to expect after an operation.

Learn more about our Surgery Program.

Request an Appointment or call us at 212-305-9467.