Background Concerns for morbidity after a pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD) has led to practitioners adopting endoscopic resection or ampullectomy in the treatment of T1 ampullary cancer (AC). It was hypothesized that survival for patients undergoing local resection of AC was inferior to those undergoing a PD. Methods All the data of patients with AC reported in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database between 2004 and 2010 were collected. Five-year survival rates according to nodal disease and histological type were compared. Results There were 1916 cases of AC; 421 (22%) had T1 disease. Among those with T1 disease, 217 (51%) received endoscopic surveillance, 21 (5%) underwent local resection/ampullectomy, 20 (5%) underwent ampullectomy with regional lymphadenectomy and 163 (39%) underwent PD. For patients with complete nodal staging (PD, n = 163), 35 (22%) had metastatic disease in the nodes. Grade was significantly associated with node positivity (P = 0.007). In multivariate models, survival was improved with either an ampullectomy with regional lymphadenectomy [hazard ratio (HR) 0.19; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.05-0.61, P < 0.005] or a PD (HR 0.23; 95% CI 0.15-0.36, P < 0.001). Conclusion Patients with T1 AC have a high risk for nodal metastases especially if they are higher-grade lesions. Nodal clearance with a lymphadenectomy or a PD is essential for long-term survival in these patients.
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