Surgical resection followed by combined adjuvant therapy is currently the standard treatment for resectable pancreas cancer. Patients with borderline or marginal resectable tumors are beginning to have favorable outcomes following neoadjuvant chemotherapy or chemoradiation. A number of prospective randomized trials have concluded that “extended” pancreaticoduodenectomy for pancreatic head cancer, involving radical dissection of lymph nodes and peripancreatic soft tissue, does not appear to provide any survival benefits compared with “standard” pancreaticoduodenectomy. Conversely, extensive surgery for pancreatic tail or body cancer (i.e., radical antegrade modular pancreatosplenectomy) can result in favorable R0 resection rates and survival outcomes. However, more prospective randomized trial data are required before these conclusions can be considered established. Laparoscopic approaches are being increasingly used in the field of pancreatic tumor surgery. Moreover, robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery has also been tried in some expert centers. Again, at present a lack of outcome data prevent any definitive conclusion at this stage on the usefulness of those approaches compared to standard open approaches.
Finally, a major problem hindering efforts to identify optimal surgical treatment modalities for pancreas cancer is the lack of a clear definition and standardization of surgical procedures and pathologic descriptions. The American Hepato- PancreatoBiliary Association/Society of Surgical Oncology/Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract conference on pancreatic cancer held in 2008 resulted in a consensus statement as an important first step in overcoming this fundamental hurdle.