Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Long-Term Survival After Pancreatoduodenectomy for Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma: Is Cure Possible?

Schnelldorfer, Thomas MD*; Ware, Adam L. BS*; Sarr, Michael G. MD*; Smyrk, Thomas C. MD; Zhang, Lizhi MD; Qin, Rui PhD; Gullerud, Rachel E. MA; Donohue, John H. MD*; Nagorney, David M. MD*; Farnell, Michael B. MD*

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181613142
Original Articles

Objective: To determine long-term survival after pancreatoduodenectomy for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and to identify clinical factors associated with long-term survival.

Summary Background Data: The prognosis for long-term survival even after potentially curative resection for pancreatic adenocarcinoma is thought to be poor. Clinical factors determining short-term survival after pancreatic resection are well studied, but prognostic factors predicting long-term survival with a potential for cure are poorly understood.

Methods: A case-control study was conducted of 357 patients who underwent pancreatoduodenectomy for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma between 1981 and 2001. Histologic specimens were reanalyzed to confirm diagnosis. Follow-up was at least 5 years or until death.

Results: There was an improved survival throughout the observation period (P = 0.004). We found 62 actual 5-year survivors of whom 21 patients survived greater than 10 years, for a 5- and 10-year survival rate of 18% and 13%, respectively. Cohort analysis comparing patients with short-term (<5 years, n = 295) and long-term (≥5 years, n = 62) survival showed that more advanced disease (greatest tumor diameter, lymph node metastasis) and decreased serum albumin concentration were unfavorable for long-term survival (all P < 0.05). In contrast, the extent of resection and more aggressive histologic features did not correlate with long-term survival (all P > 0.05). En-bloc resection (P = 0.005) but not resection margin status (P > 0.05) was associated with long-term survival. Adjuvant chemoradiation therapy did not significantly influence long-term survival. Multivariate analysis identified lymph node status (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.14–0.89, P = 0.03) as a prognostic factor for long-term survival. Five-year survival was no guarantee of cure because 16% of this subset died of pancreatic cancer up to 7.8 years after operation.

Conclusion: Pancreatoduodenectomy for adenocarcinoma in the head of pancreas can provide long-term survival in a subset of patients, particularly in the absence of lymph node metastasis. One of 8 patients can achieve 10-year survival with a potential for cure.

Most surgeons maintain a nihilistic view when considering long-term survival after resection with curative intent for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. This study provides data showing that long-term survival is possible in a subset of patients, supporting the concept that cure seems possible.

From the *Division of Gastroenterologic and General Surgery; †Department of Pathology; and ‡Division of Biostatistics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Reprints: Michael B. Farnell, MD, Division of Gastroenterologic and General Surgery, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.