Objective: The authors review their recent experience with resected pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
Summary background data: Ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas has traditionally had a 5-year survival rate less than 10% after curative resection. Recently, several groups have reported markedly improved 5-year survival rates (approaching 25%) for patients undergoing curative resection.
Methods: Institutional experience with 186 consecutive patients (1981-1991) with pathologic diagnoses of ductal adenocarcinoma undergoing pancreatic resection was reviewed. Histologic specimens of all 3-year survivors (n = 31) were re-reviewed by two pathologists, one internal and one external; nonductal pancreatic cancers then were excluded.
Results: After histologic re-review, 12 patients did not have ductal adenocarcinoma, leaving a total of 174 patients for analysis (102 men, 72 women; mean age 63 years, range 34-82 years). Mean follow-up was 22 months (range 4-109). Classical pancreaticoduodenectomy was performed in 71%, pylorus-preserving resection in 9%, and total pancreatectomy in 20%. Hospital mortality was 3%. Twenty-eight patients (16%) had macroscopically incomplete resections; 98 (56%) had lymph node metastases within the resected specimens, and 21 patients (12%) had extensive perineural invasion. Overall actuarial 5-year survival was 6.8%. Five-year survival was greater for node-negative versus node-positive patients (14% vs. 1%, p < 0.001), and for smaller (< 2 cm) versus larger tumors (20% vs. 1%, p < 0.001). The 5-year survival for the subset of patients with negative nodes and no perineural or duodenal invasion (69 patients) was 23% (p < 0.001). Mean survival of the 12 excluded patients was 53 +/- 7 months compared with 17.5 +/- 1 months in the 174 patients with ductal pancreatic cancer.
Conclusions: Five-year survival for patients undergoing pancreatic resection for lesions deemed to be clinically "curable" intraoperatively and histologically reviewed/confirmed to be ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas is approximately 7%. Survival is greater (23%) in the subset of patients with negative nodes and no duodenal or perineural invasions. Pathologic review of all patients with pancreatic ductal cancer adenocarcinoma is mandatory if survival data are to be meaningful.