Palliative operation for cancer of the head of the pancreas: significance of pancreaticoduodenectomy and intraoperative radiation therapy for survival and quality of life.
ABSTRACT The benefits of a palliative operation and intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) for survival and quality of life (QOL) of patients with cancer of the head of the pancreas are not clear. Survival and hospital-free survival (HFS), which are considered to be objective indicators of QOL, were studied in 13 patients who underwent palliative pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) and 32 patients who underwent surgical bypass. Although there was no significant difference in the survival of patients who underwent PD or bypass (median survivals of 9 months and 7 months, respectively), HFS for 3 months or longer was achieved in 84.6% of the patients who underwent PD, which was significantly higher than that of the 53.1% in patients who underwent surgical bypass (p < 0.05). Among TNM stage III patients, a significant difference in survival was observed between surgical bypass associated with IORT and bypass alone (p < 0.05); the median survival time of the IORT group was 10 months, whereas that of the control group was 5 months. In addition, HFS of 3 months or longer was achieved in 83.3% of patients who underwent bypass with IORT but in only 25.0% of the patients who underwent surgery alone (p < 0.01). The addition of IORT to palliative PD neither prolonged survival nor improved HFS. These results show the beneficial effect of palliative PD on QOL, and the efficacy of IORT for survival and QOL was proved in cases with stage III pancreatic cancer who underwent surgical bypass. For patients subjected to palliative PD, however, IORT is not thought to be beneficial for either survival or QOL.