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Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and staging of exocrine pancreatic cancer

Carlos Fernandez-del Castillo, MD
Section Editors
Kenneth K Tanabe, MD
Douglas A Howell, MD, FASGE, FACG
Deputy Editors
Diane MF Savarese, MD
Kristen M Robson, MD, MBA, FACG


Cancer of the exocrine pancreas is a highly lethal malignancy. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and second only to colorectal cancer as a cause of digestive cancer-related death. (See "Epidemiology and nonfamilial risk factors for exocrine pancreatic cancer", section on 'Epidemiology'.)

Surgical resection is the only potentially curative treatment. Unfortunately, because of the late presentation, only 15 to 20 percent of patients are candidates for pancreatectomy. Furthermore, prognosis is poor, even after a complete resection. Five-year survival after margin-negative (R0) pancreaticoduodenectomy is approximately 30 percent for node-negative and 10 percent for node-positive disease (figure 1) [1]. (See "Overview of surgery in the treatment of exocrine pancreatic cancer and prognosis".)

The clinical presentation, diagnostic evaluation, and staging workup for pancreatic exocrine cancer will be reviewed here. Epidemiology and risk factors, pathology, surgical management, adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy, and treatment of advanced pancreatic exocrine cancer, including palliative local management, are discussed elsewhere.

(See "Epidemiology and nonfamilial risk factors for exocrine pancreatic cancer".)

(See "Pathology of exocrine pancreatic neoplasms".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 21, 2017.
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