Pancreatic tumors originate from the pancreatic tissue and can be divided into two main types based on their tissue origin: exocrine (secreting digestive enzymes) and endocrine (secreting hormones such as insulin). Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the exocrine cells whereas pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NET) are from endocrine cells. The latter is much more rare but has a much better prognosis.
Surgery of the pancreas is difficult even with a traditional open technique because of its location. The pancreas locates deep in the upper abdomen, behind the stomach, in front of the spine, and is surrounded by major blood vessels. Surgeons at Valley have had extensive experience with pancreatic surgery using both open and minimally invasive approaches. Each year we perform, on average, 40 pancreatic procedures, more than half of which are done using the da Vinci Surgical System. Our excellent results have been published and reported both nationally and internationally.
Distal pancreatecotmy (DP) is a procedure performed to remove the body and/or tail of the pancreas and preserve the head of the pancreas. Because the spleen and its blood supply are in close relationship to this portion of the pancreas, it is sometimes removed as well.
DP can be done using minimally invasive approaches either with laparoscopic or robotic techniques. The latter with its delicate and precise control may increase the change of saving the spleen as compared to the laparoscopic technique.
Traditionally done as open surgery, the Whipple is a complicated procedure used to remove tumors of the pancreas. The operation generally involves removal of the gallbladder, bile duct, part of the small intestine, and head of the pancreas.
Anusak Yiengpruksawan, M.D., Medical Director of The Institute of Robotic and Minimally invasive Surgery performed the first fully robotic Whipple procedure in the United States.
The Whipple procedure is the most commonly performed operation for pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. While survival rates for the procedure are rising, they are much greater at high-volume centers. The Valley Hospital, one of a limited number of institutions regarded as high-volume for pancreatic surgery, treats more patients with the disease than any other area hospital.
It’s estimated that more than 43,000 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012, and rates have increased 1.5 percent per year since 2004.