Early stage pancreatic cancer can be treated by a ‘Whipple’ operation. This operation was first described by an Italian, Allesandro Codivilla in 1898, popularised in Europe by Dr Walther Kausch from Germany in 1909, but has become associated with Dr Alan Whipple from New York in the 1930’s. It is also known as‘pancreatoduodenectomy’.
This is a major operation which should only be carried out by a specialist surgeon, so you may have to travel to a specialist unit.
What happens during a Whipple operation?
The operation normally lasts for 4-7 hours. The surgeon aims to completely remove the cancer, and give you the best chance of cure.
The head of the pancreas, a portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder and the duodenum are removed, along with part of the stomach.
After their removal, the remaining pancreas, bile duct and stomach are joined up to the intestine – see the diagram below. This allows the pancreatic juice, bile and food to flow into the gut, so that digestion can proceed normally.
The surrounding lymph nodes may also be removed to reduce the risk of the cancer spreading or coming back. The chance of the cancer recurring depends on the type of tumour you have. This will only be confirmed after your operation, when the pathologist examines the removed pancreas.
We have included a brief animation which illustrates the Whipple Procedure:
The information provided in this site, or through links to other websites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care and should not be relied upon as such. Read our disclaimer
The information provided in this site, or through links to other websites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care and should not be relied upon as such. Read our disclaimer.