Surgical treatment options for pancreatic cancer include:
- Whipple Procedure: Also known as pancreaticoduodenectomy, it is performed to treat cancers at the head (wide part) of the pancreas. During the procedure, the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, duodenum, a part of the bile duct, and sometimes a part of the stomach are removed. The remaining bile duct, intestine, and pancreas are then reconnected so that enzymes and bile can flow back into the intestines.
Infection, bleeding, diarrhea, weight loss and diabetes are common surgical complications of this procedure. You will be able to eat small amounts of easily digestible food and may have to take medications to assist digestion.
- Distal pancreatectomy: It is usually performed when the cancer is found in the middle or tapering end of the pancreas. This procedure takes less time and has a shorter period of recovery when compared to Whipple procedure.
- Total pancreatectomy: A complete resection is opted when the tumor extends across the pancreas. During the procedure, the entire pancreas, the gallbladder, common bile duct, spleen, and parts of the stomach and small intestine are removed. Following the surgery, the patient loses the ability to create enzymes for digestion and insulin for controlling blood glucose level. Therefore, the patient has to take enzymes and insulin supplements for lifelong.