Overuse of surgery in patients with pancreatic cancer. A nationwide analysis in Italy

Gianpaolo Balzano, Giovanni Capretti, Giuditta Callea, Elena Cantù, Flavia Carle, Raffaele Pezzilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: According to current guidelines, pancreatic cancer patients should be strictly selected for surgery, either palliative or resective. Methods: Population-based study, including all patients undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer in Italy between 2010 and 2012. Hospitals were divided into five volume groups (quintiles), to search for differences among volume categories. Results: There were 544 hospitals performing 10 936 pancreatic cancer operations. The probability of undergoing palliative/explorative surgery was inversely related to volume, being 24.4% in very high-volume hospitals and 62.5% in very low-volume centres (adjusted OR 5.175). Contrarily, the resection rate in patients without metastases decreased from 86.9% to 46.1% (adjusted OR 7.429). As for resections, the mortality of non-resective surgery was inversely related to volume (p <0.001). Surprisingly, mortality of non-resective surgery was higher than that for resections (8.2% vs. 6.7%; p <0.01). Approximately 9% of all resections were performed on patients with distant metastases, irrespective of hospital volume group. The excess cost for the National Health System from surgery overuse was estimated at 12.5 million euro. Discussion.: Discrepancies between guidelines on pancreatic cancer treatment and surgical practice were observed. An overuse of surgery was detected, with serious clinical and economic consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-478
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatology


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