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The authors reviewed the clinicopathologic characteristics of patients who underwent resection with curative intent for ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas between 1983 and 1989.Recent studies have demonstrated a reduction in the morbidity and mortality of pancreatic resection and improvement in the actuarial 5-year survival for patients with resected ductal adenocarcinoma.Resection with curative intent was performed on 118 of 684 patients (17%) with pancreatic cancer admitted to the authors' institution. Clinical, demographic, treatment, and pathologic variables were analyzed. The original pathologic material for all cases was reviewed; nonductal cancers were excluded.The head of the gland was the predominant tumor site (n = 102), followed by the body (n = 9), and tail (n = 7). Seventy-two percent of the patients underwent pancreaticoduodenectomies, 15% underwent total pancreatectomies, 10% underwent distal pancreatectomies, and 3% underwent distal subtotal pancreatectomies. Operative mortality was 3.4%. Median survival was 14.3 months after resection compared with 4.9 months if patients did not undergo resection (p < 0.0001). Twelve patients survived 5 years after surgery (10.2% overall actual 5-year survival rate). Three of the tumors were well differentiated, five were moderately differentiated, and four were poorly differentiated. Extrapancreatic invasion occurred in nine cases (75%), and perineural invasion was present in ten cases (83%). Five tumors exhibited invasion of duodenum, ampulla of Vater, and/or common bile duct, and an additional tumor invaded the portal vein. Lymph node involvement by carcinoma was noted in five cases (42%). Six patients remain alive without evidence of disease at a median follow-up of 101 months (range, 82-133 months). Five patients died of recurrent or metastatic pancreatic cancer at 60, 61, 62, 64, and 64 months, respectively. One patient died at 84 months of metastatic lung cancer without evidence of recurrent pancreatic disease.This paper emphasizes the grim prognosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Five-year survival cannot be equated to cure. Although pancreatectomy offers the only chance for long-term survival, it should be considered as the best palliative procedure currently available for the majority of patients. This emphasizes the need for the development of novel and effective adjuvant therapies for this disease.