Radical resection of ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas affords the only realistic chance of cure. Despite some reports, in particular from Japan, suggesting an improvement in the long-term prognosis, this is true only in subgroups of selected patients. In actual fact, the overall long-term survival of resected patients is still below 10%. How meaningful is a more extended resection? The lack of randomized prospective trials involving a sufficient number of cases does not enable us to make any final conclusions. The only controlled data, recently reported by an Italian multicenter study, suggested that extended lymphadenectomy improved prognosis not in the whole population of resected patients, but only in a subgroup of patients with lymph node involvement. No definitive judgments can be made without further prospective controlled clinical trials involving a greater number of patients. The suspicion arises that surgery alone, even when extensive, may not be the best treatment for pancreatic ductal cancer.
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