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What type of surgery is used to treat pancreatic cancer?

The types of surgery used to treat pancreatic cancer include:
  • Whipple procedure: the most common type of surgery for pancreatic cancer. If your tumor is in the head of the pancreas, your surgeon will remove the head, part of the small intestine, part of the stomach and part of the bile duct. The gallbladder is also removed. Generally, after this procedure you are still able to produce adequate amounts of insulin and digestive enzymes.
  • Distal pancreatectomy: During this procedure, your surgeon removes the tail of the pancreas, or the tail and a portion of the body of the pancreas, as well as the spleen.
  • Total pancreatectomy: During this procedure, your surgeon removes the entire pancreas, part of the small intestine, part of the stomach, part of the bile duct, the gallbladder, and spleen. Following this procedure, you no longer have the cells that produce insulin. This means you'll be diabetic and dependent on insulin.
  • Biliary bypass: Sometimes the tumor may block your common bile duct. This surgery re-directs the flow of bile around the tumor and will relieve jaundice (yellow skin and eyes).
  • Gastric bypass: Sometimes tumors block the portion of your small intestine that connects to your stomach (duodenum). This surgery will allow food to move through your stomach past the blockage.
  • Stents: These are small plastic or metal tubes that can be inserted to keep your bile duct, pancreatic duct, or duodenum open if they are blocked.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.