Seventy-four patients were treated with a radical or a nonradical pancreatectomy for ductal cell carcinoma of the head of the pancreas. Their survival rates and the selection of the operative procedure were evaluated. In 32 patients, a radical pancreatectomy was attempted where there was sufficient clearance of regional or juxta-regional lymph nodes beyond the group of suspected metastatic nodes, as well as a resection of a greater margin of soft tissue around the pancreas. These patients' cumulative 5-year survival rate was 33.4%. In 14 Stage I or Stage II patients, the cumulative 5-year survival rate was 46.4%. In 18 Stage III or Stage IV patients, the cumulative 5-year survival rate was 20.7%. For 42 patients treated with a nonradical pancreatectomy with the dissection of lymph nodes adjacent to the pancreas or of regional lymph nodes but with insufficient clearance of the soft tissue around the pancreas, the cumulative 2-year and 3-year survival rates were 5.4% and 0%, respectively. In seven patients with Stage II carcinoma, the survival rate was 16.7% after 2 years and 0% after three years. In 35 Stage III or Stage IV patients, the survival rate was 3.2% after 2 years and 0% after 3 years. Thus, the survival rates were significantly higher in patients treated with radical operation than in patients who had nonradical operation. These results indicate that a radical pancreatectomy with sufficient lymph node clearance with the surrounding connective tissue around the pancreas is indispensable to cure patients with ductal cell carcinoma of the pancreas.