Despite improvements to surgical procedures and novel combinations of drugs for adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapies for pancreatic adenocarcinoma, the recurrence rate after radical surgery is still high. Little is known about the role of surgery in the treatment of isolated recurrences of pancreatic cancer. The aim of this study was to review the current literature dealing with surgery for recurrent pancreatic cancer in order to examine its feasibility and effectiveness. An extensive literature review was conducted according to the 2009 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and 14 articles dealing with re-resections for recurrent pancreatic adenocarcinoma were analyzed, focusing on the characteristics of the primary neoplasm and its recurrence, the surgical procedures used, and patient outcomes. Data were retrieved on a total of 301 patients. The interval between surgery for primary pancreatic cancer and the detection of a recurrence ranged from 2 to 120 months. The recurrence was local or regional in 230 patients, and distant in 71. The median overall survival was 68.9 months (range 3–152) after resection of the primary tumor, and 26.0 months (range 0–112) after surgery for recurrent disease. The disease-free interval after the resection of recurrences was 14.2 months (range 4–29). Although data analysis was performed on a heterogeneous and limited number of patients, some of these may benefit from surgery for isolated recurrence of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Further studies are needed to identify these cases.
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