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Cancers 2011, 3(1), 636-651; doi:10.3390/cancers3010636

Current Surgical Aspects of Palliative Treatment for Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer

Department of Surgery (B΄ Unit), “METAXA” Cancer Memorial Hospital, Piraeus, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 December 2010 / Revised: 19 January 2011 / Accepted: 5 February 2011 / Published: 11 February 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pancreatic Cancer)
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Despite all improvements in both surgical and other conservative therapies, pancreatic cancer is steadily associated with a poor overall prognosis and remains a major cause of cancer mortality. Radical surgical resection has been established as the best chance these patients have for long-term survival. However, in most cases the disease has reached an incurable state at the time of diagnosis, mainly due to the silent clinical course at its early stages. The role of palliative surgery in locally advanced pancreatic cancer mainly involves patients who are found unresectable during open surgical exploration and consists of combined biliary and duodenal bypass procedures. Chemical splanchnicectomy is another modality that should also be applied intraoperatively with good results. There are no randomized controlled trials evaluating the outcomes of palliative pancreatic resection. Nevertheless, data from retrospective reports suggest that this practice, compared with bypass procedures, may lead to improved survival without increasing perioperative morbidity and mortality. All efforts at developing a more effective treatment for unresectable pancreatic cancer have been directed towards neoadjuvant and targeted therapies. The scenario of downstaging tumors in anticipation of a future oncological surgical resection has been advocated by trials combining gemcitabine with radiation therapy or with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib, with promising early results.
Keywords: pancreatic cancer; locally advanced; unresectable; palliative care; surgery pancreatic cancer; locally advanced; unresectable; palliative care; surgery
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Karapanos, K.; Nomikos, I.N. Current Surgical Aspects of Palliative Treatment for Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer. Cancers 2011, 3, 636-651.

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