Surgery for operable pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic Cancer Action
Patient Information Booklets

Surgery for Operable Pancreatic cancer

This booklet contains information on the different types of surgery available and practical information about your hospital visit and returning home. It also includes a section about second opinions, clinical trials and questions to ask your doctor and a glossary to explain some of the terms used.

If there is no sign that the tumour has spread beyond the pancreas and you are fit enough to undergo the operation, your doctors may decide to remove the tumour.

You will have undergone various tests such as ultrasound scans, CT scans and possibly had an endoscopy to determine that you have pancreatic cancer. These tests are important as they will inform the doctors about the size and position of the tumour and whether it is possible to have it removed (resected).

In order to have the tumour removed doctors need to know

  • How big the tumour is: smaller tumours are easier to take out
  • Where the tumour is and that it doesn’t involve any major blood vessels or arteries
  • That there is not any cancer in surrounding lymph nodes or tissues
  • That the cancer has not spread to other parts of your body (such as the liver or lungs)
  • You are fit enough to undergo a major operation

Early stage pancreatic cancer can be treated with the following surgical procedures:

You may be told that your tumour is borderline resectable. In this case surgeons may not be able to tell from scans if the tumour can be removed.

They may investigate to see if the tumour has spread to involve blood vessels in a procedure called vein resection for pancreatic cancer surgery.