Background: The majority of patients with pancreatic cancer are non-resectable and jaundiced at presentation. Methods of palliation in such patients with locally advanced disease comprise endoscopic placement of a biliary endoprosthesis or surgical bypass.
Methods: This retrospective study compared morbidity, mortality, hospital stay, readmission rate and survival in consecutive patients with incurable locally advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
Results: We identified a total of 56 patients, of whom 33 underwent endoscopic stenting and 23 underwent a surgical bypass consisting of a hepaticojejunostomy-en-Y and a gastrojejunostomy. There were no significant differences in complication or mortality rates between patients undergoing palliative stenting and those undergoing palliative surgery. However, after excluding admissions for chemotherapy-related problems, the number of readmissions expressed as a percentage of the group population size was greater in stented patients compared with biliary bypass patients (39.4% vs. 13.0%, respectively; P < 0.05). Overall survival amongst patients undergoing palliative bypass was significantly greater than in stented patients (382 days vs. 135 days, respectively; P < 0.05).
Conclusions: On analysis of these data and the published literature, we conclude that surgical bypass represents an effective method of palliation for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer. Patients need to be carefully selected with regard to both operative risk and perceived overall survival.