Background: Data regarding the survival impact of converting frozen-section (FS):R1 pancreatic neck margins to permanent section (PS):R0 by additional resection (i.e., converted-R0) during upfront pancreaticoduodenectomy for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are conflicting. The impact of neoadjuvant therapy on this practice and its relationship with overall survival (OS) is incompletely understood.
Methods: We reviewed PDAC patients (80% borderline resectable/locally advanced [BR/LA]) undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy after neoadjuvant therapy at seven, academic, high-volume centers (2010-2018). Multivariable models examined the association of PS:R0, PS:R1, and converted-R0 margins with OS.
Results: Of 272 patients receiving at least 2 (median 4) cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (71% mFOLFIRINOX or gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel) and undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy with intraoperative frozen-section assessment of the transected pancreatic neck margin, PS:R0 (n = 220, 80.9%) was observed in a majority of patients; 18 patients (6.6%) had converted-R0 margins following additional resection, whereas 34 patients (12.5%) had persistently positive PS:R1 margins. At a median follow-up of 42 months, PS:R0 resection was associated with improved OS compared with either converted-R0 or PS:R1 resection (median 25 vs. 14 vs. 16 months, respectively; p = 0.023), with no survival difference between the converted-R0 and PS:R1 groups (p = 0.9). On Cox regression, SMA margin positivity (hazard ratio 2.2, p = 0.012), but not neck margin positivity (hazard ratio 1.2, p = 0.65), was associated with worse OS.
Conclusions: In this multi-institutional cohort of predominantly BR/LA PDAC patients undergoing pancreaticoduodenectomy following modern neoadjuvant therapy, pursuing a negative neck margin intraoperatively if the initial margin is positive does not appear to be associated with improved survival.
© 2022. Society of Surgical Oncology.