Patients With Pancreatic Cancer Don’t Regret Surgery, Study Finds

The study covered in this summary was published on as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaway

  • None of the 18 patients with pancreatic cancer included in the analysis regretted undergoing surgical resection, despite the risks and complications associated with the procedure.

Why This Matters

  • Surgery is the only chance to cure pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC), but up to one third of patients have major complications from surgery and many are left with ongoing fatigue and gastrointestinal issues.

  • There is no clear data on patient preferences and decision-making surrounding surgery, which can make it challenging to counsel those considering the procedure. 

  • The findings provide some reassurance about what patients find important, which can help with pre-op counseling.

Study Design

  • The team interviewed 18 of 22 patients a median of 14.2 months after surgery; four declined to be interviewed. Eleven patients also completed questionnaires.

Key Results

  • No one reported regret over opting for surgery. Patients indicated that the chance to prolong life was worth the risks associated with surgery and persistent symptoms that might occur after.

  • Patients said they learned to live with their symptoms and were satisfied with their new normal.

  • Patients said they were more concerned with how surgery was going to change their lives rather than with the technical aspects of the operation and their overall prognosis.

  • Many didn’t want to participate in shared decision-making about surgery and were content to trust their medical providers to make the decision for them.


  • This was a single-center study.

  • Surgery was performed by only two pancreatic surgeons, both of whom were highly experienced.

  • Patients who declined surgery were not included.  

  • It’s unclear why some patients who underwent surgery declined to be interviewed.


  • The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

  • The investigators reported no relevant disclosures.

This is a summary of a preprint study, “Patient perceptions of decision-making and quality-of-life following surgical resection of pancreatic adenocarcinoma: A mixed methods study,” led by Josh Bleicher, MD, of the University of Utah Medical Center, Salt Lake City. The study has not been peer reviewed. The full text can be found at

M. Alexander Otto is a physician assistant with a master’s degree in medical science and a journalism degree from Newhouse. He is an award-winning medical journalist who worked for several major news outlets before joining Medscape and is also an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow. Email: [email protected].

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