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Vol. 60, Suppl. 1, 1999
Issue release date: February 1999

Surgery for Carcinoma of the Pancreas in Japan

Past, Present, and Future Aspects

Takada T.
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Pancreatic cancer surgery was first performed in Japan in the 1940s, although it was not until the 1970s that pancreatic resectional surgery became widely available. In the late 1970s, influenced by the application of regional pancreatectomy by Fortner and colleagues, several institutions in Japan introduced radical pancreatic cancer surgery. Aggressive strategies in pancreatic cancer surgery were approved in Japan in the 1980s. Japanese surgeons introduced additional modifications to pancreatic cancer surgery, including radical pancreatoduodenectomy with extended lymph node and connective tissue dissection and portal vein resection. However, it became clear that such extended operations impair the quality of life of the patient, even though the resectability of cancer increased to up to about 50%. Improvements to radical pancreatoduodenectomy were therefore introduced. Pylorus-preserving pancreatoduodenectomy with extended lymphadenectomy, connective tissue dissection, and portal vein resection is a Japanese modification to radical pancreatectomy that improves the quality of life of the patient and does not reduce the survival rate. Another modification applicable to low-grade malignancies is organ-preserving pancreatectomy, such as duodenum-preserving total pancreatic head resection, ventral pancreatectomy, and medial or segmental pancreatectomy. Although aggressive Japanese surgical strategies have provided important data, most studies have been retrospective. In the near future, Japanese surgeons will need to reevaluate their strategies in term of the importance of extended lymphadenectomy with connective tissue dissection and its influence on long-term survival of patients. Such reevaluation will require randomized controlled trials performed according to a detailed and strict protocol.

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