Context: Patients with resectable pancreatic cancer comprise a small subgroup of the overall population with the disease from around 15 to 20%, with nearly all patients dying from their disease within 7 years of surgery. In the light of such bleak statistics, data regarding what factors may influence outcome, following attempted curative resection is essential in order to optimise the treatment options for patients.
Methods: This review analysed all English-language publications using PubMed and Web of Science databases for studies detailing outcomes following resection for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma from 1980 to the present day.
Main outcome measures: The data examined from papers were post-operative mortality rates, median survival, yearly survival rates and other factors which may have influenced long-term survival; such as patient demographics, operative details and tumour characteristics (such as example tumour size, lymph node metastases and tumour differentiation).
Results: There has been significant improvement in post-operative mortality over the last decades with a modest improvement in long-term survival. With the exception of post-operative blood transfusion, tumour characteristics remain the only significant features influencing survival after pancreatic cancer surgery. Favourable prognostic factors include tumour size less than 2 cm, negative resection margin, lymph node negative tumours, well-differentiated tumours and absence of perineural or blood vessel invasion.
Conclusion: In light of these data, it could be reasoned that tumour size, on cross-sectional imaging, might be employed as means of selecting the most appropriate candidates for surgery, in cases where the risks of resection are high.