Whipple surgery for Pancreatic Cancer at World Class Hospitals in India

The Whipple procedure, also known as pancreatoduodenectomy, is often used to treat cancer contained to the pancreas. Although it is a common treatment for pancreatic cancer, the Whipple procedure is a complex surgery that requires skill and training. Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) has surgical oncologists on staff with extensive experience in performing Whipple procedures.

The Whipple procedure is used to treat tumors and other disorders of the pancreas, intestine and bile duct. It is the most often used surgery to treat pancreatic cancer that’s confined to the head of the pancreas. After performing the Whipple procedure, your surgeon reconnects the remaining organs to allow you to digest food normally after surgery.

In some cases, your surgical oncologist may also use intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) in combination with a Whipple procedure. IORT delivers a single, powerful dose of radiation directly to the tumor site during surgery. This helps to reduce side effects, spare healthy tissues and reduce treatment times.

Patients undergoing a Whipple procedure are typically hospitalized for up to a week. Relatively few pancreatic cancer patients are candidates for the Whipple procedure. To be considered, patients must have a tumor that is confined to the head of the pancreas and has not spread or metastasized beyond the pancreas. Various tests are available to help our oncologists determine which patients are candidates for the Whipple procedure.

What is a Whipple Procedure and how is it Performed?

There are two types of Whipple Procedures Commonly Performed:

Standard Whipple (pancreaticoduodenectomy): This is a surgical procedure which removes the pancreatic head (and at times the body), gallbladder, bile duct and a portion of both the stomach (pylorus), small intestine (duodenum), and surrounding lymph nodes. The remaining pancreas is capable of continuing production of digestive juices and insulin.

Pylorus Preserving Whipple: This procedure is similar to the standard Whipple, with the exception that the pylorous is left in place and not removed.

During these procedures, the remaining common bile duct and pancreas will be connected to the small intestine so that pancreatic enzymes and bile can pass through to the small intestine.

The procedure is performed using an open approach, however, a minimally invasive laparoscopic “key hole” approach may be an option for some patients in certain settings and who meet certain criteria.

Related procedures

Depending on your situation, your doctor may talk with you about other pancreatic operations. Seek a second opinion from a specialized surgeon if needed. Options include:

Surgery for tumors or disorders in the body and tail of the pancreas. Surgery to remove the left side (body and tail) of the pancreas is called a distal pancreatectomy. With this procedure, your surgeon may also need to remove your spleen.

Surgery to remove the entire pancreas. This is called total pancreatectomy. You can live relatively normally without a pancreas but will need lifelong insulin and enzyme replacement.

Surgery for tumors affecting nearby blood vessels. Many people are not considered eligible for the Whipple procedure or other pancreatic surgeries if their tumors involve nearby blood vessels. At a very few medical centers in the United States, highly specialized and experienced surgeons will safely perform these operations in select patients. The procedures involve also removing and reconstructing parts of blood vessels.

Effect of Whipple Operation on Diabetes

During the Whipple operation part of the pancreas, the head of the pancreas is removed. Pancreatic tissue produces insulin that is required for blood sugar control. When pancreatic tissue is removed the remaining parts of the pancreas may not produce enough insulin and the risk of developing diabetes is present.

Follow up Care Required as It is a Highly Specialized Procedure

The Whipple procedure is a difficult and demanding operation for both the person undergoing surgery and the surgeon. The surgery usually lasts between 5-8 hours. The patient needs to stay in the hospital for at least seven days. The patient might have a decreased appetite after the operation. The body will not be able to digest fats as effectively, so one needs to take medication every time he eats. Another common problem patients experience after surgery is fatigue, which usually lasts for few weeks. Whipple surgery is a complex surgery that requires great expertise on the part of the surgeon and hence is categorized as a highly specialized procedure.

Best Hospitals in India for Whipple surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

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