Differences in survival for patients with resectable versus unresectable metastases from pancreatic islet cell cancer

Michael G. House, John L. Cameron, Keith D. Lillemoe, Richard D. Schulick, Michael A. Choti, Donna E. Hansel, Ralph H. Hruban, Anirban Maitra, Charles J. Yeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Well-differentiated islet cell tumors can be associated with aggressive biology, resulting in early metastases to the liver. This study was carried out to determine whether survival for patients with malignant islet cell tumors and synchronous liver metastases is affected by complete surgical resection. Thirty-one patients with synchronous liver metastases from islet cell cancer underwent surgical exploration with the intent for complete tumor resection, and all patients underwent resection of the pancreatic primary. The patients were divided into two groups, those with resectable versus unresectable liver metastases. Twenty-six of 31 (84%) patients underwent complete resection of both the primary tumor and all liver metastases, and 5 (16%) patients underwent only complete resection of the pancreatic primary without liver resection. To extirpate the primary tumor, a pancreaticoduodenectomy was performed in 11 of the 26 (42%) completely resected patients and in 4 of the 5 (80%) incompletely resected patients, P = NS. The remainder of the patients underwent distal pancreatectomy. There were no statistical differences in primary tumor size, lymph node metastases, or adjuvant treatments between patients with resected and unresected liver metastases. The median overall survival for the completely resected group was 78 months, longer than the 17 months for the group with unresectable liver metastases (P = 0.06). Complete tumor resection (or the tumor biology that allows such complete resection) affords a survival advantage to patients with metastatic islet cell tumors of the pancreas. Patterns of liver metastases from islet cell tumors, specifically multiple bilobar metastases that are not amenable to resection and/or ablation, predict a poor outcome despite resection of the primary pancreatic tumor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Islet cell tumors
  • Liver metastases
  • Pancreas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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