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Curr Drug Targets. 2012 Jun;13(6):772-80.

Vascular resection in pancreaticoduodenectomy: is it worthwhile?

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  • 1Department of Surgical Oncology C - National Cancer Institute G. Pascale, Via M. Semmola 80131 Naples, Italy.


Pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) is the gold standard treatment for cancer of pancreatic head in all the cases that are supposed to be resectable. Although the overall survival depends on many heterogeneous factors, the main aim of the treatment must be to achieve a R0 resection with microscopically and macroscopically free margins. As in recent reports vascular involvement does not represent anymore a technical limit, it is mandatory pointing out whether or not vascular resection modifies overall survival and if that is the case vascular invasion should not be considered as an exclusion criterion but as part of a standard resection. The review analysis demonstrated a progressive trend of inversion in the treatment of head pancreatic cancer over the last years. Recently, provided that a R0 resection may be performed, a more aggressive surgical approach has led to consider the possibility of venous and arterial resections. The basis for this new approach has been that the superior mesenteric vein or spleno-portal mesenteric vein invasion is not a measure of the tumor malignancy but merely a consequence of the tumor location. On the contrary, the controversial results in terms of overall survival and local recurrences achieved with major arterial resections are more likely due to a biological aggressivity than to the tumor site. The "artery first" technique seems to be the most promising approach to the problem although it needs further trials to determine whether or not this approach may be beneficial for patients in terms of overall survival and local recurrences.

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