Objective: To assess the impact of postoperative complications on the receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy.
Background: Randomized trials have demonstrated that adjuvant chemotherapy is associated with improved long-term survival. However, pancreatic surgery is associated with significant morbidity and the degree to which complications limit subsequent treatment options is unknown.
Methods: Patients from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and the National Cancer Data Base who underwent pancreatic resection for cancer were linked (2006–2009). The associations between complications and adjuvant chemotherapy use or treatment delay (≥70 days from surgery) were assessed using multivariable regression methods.
Results: From 149 hospitals, 2047 patients underwent resection for stage I-III pancreatic adenocarcinoma of which 23.2% had at least 1 serious complication. Overall adjuvant chemotherapy receipt was 57.7%: 61.8% among patients not experiencing any complication and 43.6% among those who had a serious complication. Serious complications increased the likelihood of not receiving adjuvant therapy over twofold [odds ratio (OR) = 2.20, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.73–2.80]. Specific complications associated with adjuvant chemotherapy omission were reintubation (OR = 7.79, 95% CI: 3.59–16.87), prolonged ventilation (OR = 5.92, 95% CI: 3.23–10.86), pneumonia (OR = 2.83, 95% CI: 1.63–4.90), sepsis/shock (OR = 2.76, 95% CI: 2.02–3.76), organ space/deep surgical site infection (OR = 2.19, 95% CI: 1.53–3.13), venous thromboembolism (OR = 1.92, 95% CI: 1.08–3.43), and urinary tract infection (OR = 1.61, 95% CI: 1.02–2.54). Serious complications also doubled the likelihood of delaying adjuvant treatment administration (OR = 2.08, 95% CI: 1.42–3.05). Sensitivity analysis in a younger, healthier patient cohort demonstrated similar associations.
Conclusions: Postoperative complications are common following pancreatic surgery and are associated with adjuvant chemotherapy omission and treatment delays.