The benefit of radical surgical resection of contiguously involved structures for locally advanced pancreatic cancer is unclear. The aim of this study was to examine patient outcome after extended pancreatic resection for locally advanced tumors and to determine if any subset of extended resection affected outcome. We retrospectively reviewed the records of 116 patients with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, who underwent extirpative pancreatic surgery between 1987 and 2000. Of the 116 patients, 37 (32%) required resection of surrounding structures (group I), and 79 patients (68%) underwent standard pancreatic resections (group II). In all cases, all macroscopic disease was excised. In group I a total of 46 contiguously involved structures were resected: vascular in 25 patients (54%), mesocolon in 16 (35%) (colic vessels in 3, colon in 13), adrenal in three (7%), liver in one (2%), stomach in one (2%) (for a tumor in the tail of the pancreas), and multiple structures in four. Excision of regional blood vessels included the superior mesenteric vein and/or portal vein in 16, hepatic artery in five, and celiac axis in four. No differences between groups I and II were detected for any of the following parameters: age, sex, history of previous operation, estimated blood loss, or hospital stay. For the entire cohort the morbidity and mortality were 38% and 1.7%, respectively, and these rates were similar in the two groups. Adjuvant therapy was administered to more than 90% of patients in both groups. However, patients in group I were more likely to have received neoadjuvant therapy (76% vs. 42%, P = 0.001). Total pancreatectomy and distal pancreatectomy were more often performed in group I (P = 0.005). Additionally, the median operative time was longer (8.5 hours compared to 6.9 hours (P = 0.0004)). Both groups had similar rates of microscopically positive margins and involved lymph nodes, as well as total number of lymph nodes removed. The median survival was 26 months for patients in group I and 16 months for patients in group II (P = 0.08). The median disease-free survival for groups I and II was 16 months and 14 months, respectively (P = 0.88). In comparing patients in group I, who underwent vascular resection vs. mesocolon (colon or middle colic vessels) resection, the median survival was 26 months and 19 months, respectively (P = 0.12). We were unable to detect a difference in outcome for patients with locally advanced cancers requiring extended pancreatic resections compared to patients with standard resections. En bloc resection of involved surrounding structures, to completely extirpate all macroscopic disease, may be of benefit in selected patients with locally advanced disease, particularly when combined with preoperative chemoradiation therapy.