Surgical palliation of pancreatic cancer

Cancer J. Nov-Dec 2012;18(6):577-83. doi: 10.1097/PPO.0b013e3182797dfe.


The surgical palliation of pancreatic cancer remains an important component of the treatment of this disease. The introduction of a new aggressive and effective chemotherapy regimen (FOLFIRINOX), interdisciplinary palliative care, and minimally invasive approaches for providing palliation are all factors that expand the role of the surgeon in the care of patients with unresectable disease. Currently, the role of the surgeon in the palliation of pancreatic cancer is (1) to identify patients with incurable disease (either preoperatively or intraoperatively), (2) to determine the optimal palliative technique to optimize results and preserve resources, and (3) to perform palliation of symptoms with low morbidity and mortality. The 3 most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer requiring surgical palliation are obstructive jaundice, gastric outlet obstruction, and tumor-associated pain. It is important that the surgeon recognizes the full range of surgical and nonoperative techniques available and contributes to the decision making as to the most appropriate method for each individual patient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy