Background: Patients with occult metastasis or locally nonresectable pancreatic cancer found during surgical exploration have a limited life expectancy. We sought to define markers in these patients that could predict survival and thus aid decision making for selection of the most appropriate therapeutic palliative option.
Methods: In a prospective 4-year single-center study, 136 consecutive patients with obstructive pancreatic cancer and intraoperative diagnosis of nonresectable or disseminated pancreatic cancer underwent a palliative surgical bypass procedure. Potential factors predicting survival were evaluated.
Results: Ninety-eight patients had metastatic disease and 38 locally advanced disease. Surgical morbidity rate was 16 %, re-operation rate 1%, and overall in-hospital mortality 4%. Univariate analysis showed American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score, pain, operation time, presence of metastasis, and levels of leukocytes, albumin, C-reactive protein (CRP), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), and carbohydrate antigen (CA) 19-9 were associated significantly with survival. The multivariate analysis identified ASA score, presence of liver metastasis, pain, CA 19-9, and CEA levels as independent indicators for poor survival. Patients with none or 1 of these risk factors had a median survival of 13.5 months, whereas patients with 4 or 5 risk factors had a median survival of 3.5 months.
Conclusions: The clinical markers identified predict poor outcome for patients with palliative bypass surgery and therefore aid the appropriate selection of either surgical bypass or endoscopic stenting in these patients.