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Scientific studies have shown that removal of only a part of the pancreatic cancer does not help patients live longer, so potentially curative surgery is only performed if the surgeon thinks that the whole cancer can be removed.
Pancreatic surgery is quite complicated and can be very difficult for patients too. It may cause complications and may take weeks, even months.
If you plan to perform this type of surgery, it is important to assess carefully the potential advantages and risks.
Less than 20% of pancreatic cancers appear to be confined to the pancreas when diagnosed. During surgery it is revealed that the cancer has progressed at some patients. And at this stage there are situations where only biopsy can be taken and the surgery is discontinued.
Sometimes it is revealed that the cancer has progressed more than expected. In this case, the operation may be stopped or different operation can be performed to alleviate or prevent complaints. This is due to the fact that the planned surgery is unlikely to cure cancer and can cause major side effects. In such cases, attempting to perform radical surgery also prolongs the healing time that may delay treatment.
Surgery offers the only realistic opportunity to treat exocrine pancreatic cancer (which constitutes 90% of all pancreatic cancers), but it does not always lead to a real treatment. Even if all visible cancers are removed, most cancer cells are often spread to other parts of the body. These cells may turn into new tumors over time and it can be very difficult to treat them.
Long-term success rates for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NET) are generally better. Surgery is more effective in this patient group.
Curative surgery is mainly performed to treat cancers located in the head of the pancreas. Since these cancers are close to the bile duct, they usually cause jaundice and early diagnosing. The chance of surgery is less in the tumors located in the body or tale of the pancreas
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