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Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

If the tumor has remained confined to the pancreas, surgery may be recommended.

Whether or not surgery is an option is based on the exact location of the cancer.

Whipple procedure:

  • Tumors confined to the “head and neck” of the pancreas can be removed with a procedure called the Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy).
  • In this procedure, the first part, or the “head” of the pancreas and about 20 percent of the “body,” or the second part, are removed.
  • The bottom half of the bile duct and the first part of the intestine are also removed.
  • In a modified version of this surgery, a part of the stomach is also removed.


Pancreatic cancer types:

 Two types of pancreatic cancer exist:

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma

  • About 95 percent of pancreatic cancers are pancreatic adenocarcinomas.
  • This type of pancreatic cancer develops in the exocrine cells of the pancreas.
  • The majority of cells in the pancreas are these exocrine cells, which make pancreatic enzymes or make up the pancreatic ducts.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs):

  • This less common type of pancreatic cancer develops in the endocrine cells of the pancreas.
  • These cells are responsible for making hormones, including the ones that help manage blood sugar.

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