Pancreatic cancer: An exploration of leading surgical techniques

August 22, 2013 | by

Treatment of pancreatic cancer starts with surgery, when operable. And though the overall statistics are often grim, newer treatment algorithms continue to evolve with the ultimate aim of  beating this cancer.

Pancreactic cancer . surgery. Shown here: normal pancreas.

Pancreactic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. A recent webinar explored leading-edge surgical procedures used against the disease. Shown here: normal pancreas.

Said Gagandeep Singh, M.D., chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, and the head of pancreatic and liver surgery at City of Hope: “Pancreatic cancer is a top 10 cancer in the United States. It is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in men and women. At City of Hope we have ongoing efforts to improve medical and surgical therapies – with added values of pancreatic cancer research to help find a cure and stop this disease.”

Singh discussed those ongoing efforts in a webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 28.  He elaborated not only on the anatomy and physiology of the pancreas but also what makes pancreatic cancer surgery a formidable undertaking. He even explained how experts “stage” pancreatic cancer – that is, determine whether it’s Stage 1, 2, 3 or 4 – and how they devise treatment plans for the disease.

The main emphasis of his session, however, was the current leading-edge surgical procedures that City of Hope provides for pancreatic cancer patients, as well as the complexities that revolve around these operations.

The free event, sponsored by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, was meant for patients, caregivers and all level of health care workers. Singh discussed the various surgical procedures for this cancer, which include – but are not limited to – pancreatoduodenectomy (the Whipple Operation), total pancreatectomy, distal pancreatectomy (with and without splenectomy) and central pancreatectomy.

“The ultimate goal is to remove the cancer when possible,” Singh said before the webinar. “Surgery may not be appropriate for everyone, and chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy may be necessary to shrink locally advanced tumors to render them operable.”