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Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Feb 19;14(2):4163-73. doi: 10.3390/ijms14024163.

Brain metastasis in pancreatic cancer.

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Clinic of General and Visceral Surgery, University Hospital Ulm, Albert-Einstein-Allee 23, Ulm 89071, Germany.


Pancreatic cancer is a fatal disease with a 5-year survival rate below 5%. Most patients are diagnosed at an advanced tumor stage and existence of distant metastases. However, involvement of the central nervous system is rare in pancreatic cancer. We retrospectively analyzed all cases of brain metastases in pancreatic cancer reported to date focusing on patient characteristics, clinical appearance, therapy and survival. Including our own, 12 cases of brain metastases originating from pancreatic cancer were identified. In three patients brain metastases were the first manifestation of pancreatic cancer. All other patients developed brain metastases during their clinical course. In most cases, the disease progressed rapidly and the patients died within weeks or months. However, two patients showed long-term survival. Of note, both patients received resection of the pancreatic cancer as well as curative resection of the metachronous brain metastases. Brain metastases in pancreatic cancer are a rare condition and usually predict a very poor prognosis. However, there is evidence that resection of brain metastases of pancreatic cancer can be immensely beneficial to patient's survival, even with the chance for cure. Therefore, a surgical approach in metastatic pancreatic cancer should be considered in selective cases.

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