Pathologic Examination of Pancreatic Specimens Resected for Treated Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma: Recommendations From the Pancreatobiliary Pathology Society

Am J Surg Pathol. 2022 Jun 1;46(6):754-764. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000001853. Epub 2021 Dec 15.


Currently, there are no internationally accepted consensus guidelines for pathologic evaluation of posttherapy pancreatectomy specimens. The Neoadjuvant Therapy Working Group of Pancreatobiliary Pathology Society was formed in 2018 to review grossing protocols, literature, and major issues and to develop recommendations for pathologic evaluation of posttherapy pancreatectomy specimens. The working group generated the following recommendations: (1) Systematic and standardized grossing and sampling protocols should be adopted for pancreatectomy specimens for treated pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). (2) Consecutive mapping sections along the largest gross tumor dimension are recommended to validate tumor size by histology as required by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) cancer protocol. (3) Tumor size of treated PDACs should be measured microscopically as the largest dimension of tumor outer limits that is bound by viable tumor cells, including intervening stroma. (4) The MD Anderson grading system for tumor response has a better correlation with prognosis and better interobserver concordance among pathologists than does the CAP system. (5) A case should not be classified as a complete response unless the entire pancreas, peripancreatic tissues, ampulla of Vater, common bile duct, and duodenum adjacent to the pancreas are submitted for microscopic examination. (6) Future studies on tumor response of lymph node metastases, molecular and/or immunohistochemical markers, as well as application of artificial intelligence in grading tumor response of treated PDAC are needed. In summary, systematic, standardized pathologic evaluation, accurate tumor size measurement, and reproducible tumor response grading to neoadjuvant therapy are needed for optimal patient care. The criteria and discussions provided here may provide guidance towards these goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Pancreatectomy
  • Pancreatic Ducts / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / surgery