Pancreas surgery

Also known as: Pancreatic cancer surgery

One of the following types of surgery may be used to treat pancreatic cancer:

  • Whipple procedure: A surgical procedure in which the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, part of the stomach, part of the small intestine, and the bile duct are removed. Enough of the pancreas is left to produce digestive juices and insulin.
  • Total pancreatectomy: This operation removes the whole pancreas, part of the stomach, part of the small intestine, the common bile duct, the gallbladder, the spleen, and nearby lymph nodes.
  • Distal pancreatectomy: The body and the tail of the pancreas and usually the spleen are removed.

If the cancer has spread and cannot be removed, the following types of palliative surgery may be done to relieve symptoms:

  • Surgical biliarybypass: If cancer is blocking the small intestine and bile is building up in the gallbladder, a biliary bypass may be done. During this operation, 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: If the tumor is blocking the bile duct, surgery may be done to put in a stent (a thin tube) 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 and drain the bile into the small intestine.
  • Gastric bypass: If the tumor is blocking the flow of food from the stomach, the stomach may be sewn directly to the small intestine so the patient can continue to eat normally.
Providence Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer Program serves patients with liver and pancreatic diseases including disorders of the liver, bile ducts, gallbladder and pancreas. Surgical procedures for these diseases are usually advanced and complicated. Special training and skill is required to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.  

Proprietary Health Article

Liver and Pancreas Surgery Options

Surgical treatments for liver and pancreatic disease:

Recommended Resource

American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society’s home page with links to all types of cancer, symptoms, treatment options, statistics trials and ways to contribute.