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World J Surg. 2006 Aug;30(8):1536-42.

Surgical treatment of metastatic tumors to the pancreas: a single center experience and review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Milan Bicocca, San Gerardo Hospital, Via Donizetti, 106, 20052, Monza, MI, Italy.



Unlike primary pancreatic carcinoma, metastases to the pancreas are rare, and their resection may be performed as palliative treatment. The aim of this study was to review our experience with the operative management of pancreatic metastases.


Between January 1994 and December 2004 13 patients (nine women and four men; median age: 59 years; range: 36-79 years) were admitted to our institution with metastatic lesion to the pancreas. The clinical features of the treatment and results were examined.


Primary tumors were renal cell carcinoma (n=5), lobular carcinoma of the breast (n=3), endometrioid carcinoma of the ovary (n=1), colonic adenocarcinoma (n=1), jejunal leiomyosarcoma (n=1), melanoma (n=1), and non-small-cell lung cancer (n=1). The median interval between primary tumor and pancreatic metastases was 36 months (range: 5-192 months). Six patients (46%) were asymptomatic, while the other seven patients presented with jaundice, pain, and duodenal obstruction. Two patients with extrapancreatic disease underwent palliative surgery, and the remaining 11 patients underwent operative procedures that included seven pancreaticoduodenectomy and four distal pancreatectomies with splenectomy. Postoperative mortality was nil, and the morbidity rate was 30%. The two patients who underwent palliative surgery died after 7 and 9 months, respectively. The median survival of the resected patients was 26 months (range: 13-95 months). Five patients died of disease, eight are alive at the time of this report.


A trend towards improved survival, even if not statistically significant, was observed in the renal carcinoma patients reported here. Surgical resection can be performed safely in selected patients with isolated metastases to the pancreas, achieving long-term survival as well as good palliation.

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