Long-term quality of life in pancreatic cancer survivors shows promise

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Pancreatic cancer has long been one of the most devastating and least survivable forms of cancer.

However, a new study published in the Annals of Surgery reveals promising data regarding the long-term quality of life for survivors.

Mayo Clinic researchers’ findings provide hope and new perspectives for both clinicians and patients dealing with this severe disease.

Researchers analyzed a cross-sectional survey of patients who had undergone a pancreatoduodenectomy, also known as the Whipple procedure.

This complex operation involves the removal of the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, the gallbladder, and the bile duct.

The study looked at patients treated at the Mayo Clinic between 2011 and 2019. Remarkably, on average, these patients reported excellent quality of life five years post-surgery.

Key Findings

The survey assessed various quality-of-life measures and gastrointestinal symptoms.

When compared to the U.S. general population, the quality-of-life scores for the study participants were either the same or even better three to 10 years after the surgery.

Although most patients experienced mild gastrointestinal symptoms post-operation, these had minimal impact on their overall quality of life. The study also reported surprisingly low rates of insulin-dependent diabetes.

Implications and Limitations

These findings are a milestone in understanding long-term survivorship for pancreatic cancer patients.

According to Dr. Cornelius Thiels, the study’s corresponding author, “Now we can reassure patients that the majority of long-term survivors will have an excellent quality of life despite the significant and life-changing natures of the treatments.”

However, the study predominantly included Caucasian respondents, indicating a need for more racially diverse studies in the future. Also, as Dr. Thiels acknowledges, survivorship bias could affect these optimistic findings.

Clinical Relevance

The study is crucial for healthcare providers who now have data to discuss with patients when considering surgical options for pancreatic cancer.

Furthermore, the long-term symptoms and rates of postoperative complications provide valuable information for patient follow-up planning.


This study is a glimmer of hope in the otherwise grim landscape of pancreatic cancer treatment.

While there are limitations, the findings are a significant step towards a better understanding of long-term outcomes and improving the quality of life for pancreatic cancer survivors.

Future research should aim to include a more diverse patient group to validate these findings further.

Nevertheless, this is essential information that can significantly influence medical advice, patient decisions, and treatment planning for one of the most lethal cancers known to humankind.

If you care about pancreatic cancer, please read studies about new vaccines to prevent pancreatic cancer, and new therapy to kill pancreatic cancer from within.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about herbs that may help treat pancreatic cancer, and results showing how to detect pancreatic cancer at treatable stages.

The study was published in the Annals of Surgery.

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