Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

Surgery for pancreatic cancer is not recommended in all cases. Only patients whose cancer is determined to be resectable, or removable, are thought to be candidates for surgery. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our surgeons have a unique level of experience performing highly complex pancreatic surgeries. We are known throughout the country as a leader in the treatment of uncommon malignancies such as pancreatic cancer.

Depending on the extent of the patient’s cancer as well as his or her overall health and treatment preferences, a surgeon may recommend one of several surgical approaches to remove tumors. The most commonly performed surgeries for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Minimally invasive procedures – Also referred to as laparoscopic procedures, state-of-the-art surgical instruments are used to remove small tumors and affected tissues through tiny incisions.
  • Distal pancreatectomy – While leaving the head of the pancreas intact, the tail of the organ is removed. In select cases, a portion of the pancreas body may also be removed.
  • Total pancreatectomy – All of the pancreas, spleen, gallbladder, bile duct and sections of the small intestine and stomach are removed.
  • Whipple procedure – Also referred to as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, this procedure involves the removal of the head of the pancreas, along with surrounding lymph nodes and sections of the duodenum, gall bladder, bile duct and small intestine. A portion of the pancreas body may also be removed. The remaining section of the pancreas is then reattached to the bile duct and small intestine to restore function in the digestive system.

The Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt offers the latest advances in pancreatic cancer surgery, as well as nonsurgical treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and specialized ultrasound therapy. Moffitt’s multispecialty team of oncologists and supportive care professionals design individualized treatment plans to provide the best possible outcome and highest quality of life for our patients, who may also have the opportunity to participate in one of our clinical trials for pancreatic cancer.

To learn more about surgery for pancreatic cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center, call 1-888-MOFFITT or submit a new patient registration form. Referrals are not required to visit Moffitt.