Is pancreatic cancer truly curable? Even patients diagnosed at early stages of the disease who undergo “successful” surgery (generally defined as an R0 resection) relapse at exceedingly high rates. This leads some to posit—perhaps partially tongue-in-cheek—that a Whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer is only a palliative, rather than a curative, cancer operation. Adjuvant chemotherapy has been shown to improve relapse-free and overall survival in patients following pancreatic cancer resection in multiple clinical trials, and 10-year overall survival rates of up to 12% have been reported in studies where long-term follow-up data are available.1 However, it is debatable whether data collected from such highly selected patients enrolled in therapeutic trials or from longitudinal database cohorts at select high-volume centers accurately reflect the true incidence of long-term survivors (LTSs) in the overall patient population.
Ko AH. Pancreatic Cancer and the Possibility of Long-term SurvivalA Glimmer of Hope?. JAMA Oncol. 2016;2(3):380-381. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.4869