Recently, several institutions have reported improved results in the treatment of patients with carcinoma of the head of the pancreas. In an attempt to determine whether similar trends could be demonstrated for patients with carcinoma of the body and tail of the pancreas, the records of all 113 patients with an adenocarcinoma of the body or tail of the pancreas treated at The Johns Hopkins Hospital between 1972 and 1989 were reviewed. The patients were divided into two groups: those diagnosed between 1972 and 1982 (41 patients) and those between 1983 and 1989 (72 patients). No significant differences in tumor stage were observed between the two groups. The proportion of patients who underwent surgery decreased from 68% to 47% (p=0.02). The number of patients who had bypass operations (15% versus 17%) or pancreatic resection (5% versus 10%) was similar in the two groups, but the proportion of patients who underwent exploratory laparotomy with biopsy only decreased from 49% to 21% (p=0.002). The postoperative 30-day mortality (7% versus 3%), postoperative morbidity (18% versus 21%), median survival (4 months versus 3 months), and the 1-year survival (8% versus 9%) did not differ significantly between the two groups. One patient survived for 6 years after resection, and another patient is still alive 3 years after resection. Thus, unlike adenocarcinoma of the head of the pancreas, it appears that treatment results for patients with adenocarcinoma of the body or tail of the pancreas have not improved in recent years, the only change being a decreased need for exploratory laparotomy with biopsy only.
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