Types of surgery for pancreatic cancer include the following:
- Whipple procedure: This procedure involves removal of the head of the pancreas, part of the small intestine, the gall bladder and part of the common bile duct and lymph nodes near the head of the pancreas. Most pancreatic tumors occur in the head of the pancreas, so the Whipple procedure is the most commonly performed surgical procedure for pancreatic cancer.
- Distal pancreatectomy: If the tumor is located in the body and tail of the pancreas, both of these sections of the pancreas will be removed. Efforts are made to preserve the spleen which is attached to the pancreas. This is most often done using minimally invasive approaches using laparoscopy or with the assistance of the robot.
- Total pancreatectomy: The entire pancreas, part of the small intestine the common bile duct, the spleen, the gallbladder, and some lymph nodes will be removed. This type of operation is not done often.
- Palliative surgery: For more advanced cancers that cannot be completely removed, surgery may be undertaken to relieve symptoms caused by problems such as a blocked bile duct or obstruction of the stomach.