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Whipple Procedure
If the tumor is in the head (the widest part) of the pancreas, the surgeon will remove the head of the pancreas and part of the small intestine, bile duct, and stomach. This is known as a Whipple procedure. The surgeon may also remove other nearby tissues. However, the surgeon will leave enough of the pancreas in the body to produce digestive juices and insulin.
Distal Pancreatectomy
In a distal pancreatectomy, the surgeon will remove the body and the tail of the pancreas depending on where the tumor is located. The surgeon will also remove the spleen.
Total Pancreatectomy
In a total pancreatectomy, the surgeon will remove:
  • The entire pancreas
  • Part of the small intestine
  • A portion of the stomach
  • The common bile duct
  • The gallbladder
  • The spleen
  • Nearby lymph nodes.

Palliative Therapy

If the cancer has spread and cannot be removed, palliative surgery may be done to relieve symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Palliative options include:
  • Surgical biliary bypass
  • Endoscopic stent placement
  • Gastric bypass.
Surgical Biliary Bypass
A biliary bypass may be performed if cancer is blocking the small intestine and bile is building up in the gallbladder. During a biliary bypass, the doctor will cut the gallbladder or bile duct and sew it to the small intestine to create a new pathway around the blocked area.
Endoscopic Stent Placement
An endoscopic stent placement may be necessary if the tumor is blocking the bile duct. The stent (a thin tube) is used to drain bile that has built up in the area. The doctor may place the stent through a catheter that drains to the outside of the body, or the stent may go around the blocked area (which will allow the bile to drain into the small intestine).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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