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To review the recent Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center experience with adenocarcinoma of the ampulla of Vater and to identify clinicopathologic factors that have an impact on patient survival.The prognosis for patients with tumors of the ampulla of Vater is improved relative to other periampullary neoplasms. Identification of independent prognostic factors in ampullary tumors has been limited by small numbers of tumors and a lack of pathologic review.Data were collected prospectively for patients presenting with periampullary carcinomas to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center between October 15, 1983 and June 30, 1995. The correlation between clinicopathologic variables and survival of ampullary carcinoma was tested by the Kaplan-Meier method and log-rank test, and Cox proportional hazards regression. Survival of patients with periampullary adenocarcinomas was compared by the Kaplan-Meier method.In 123 patients presenting with ampullary carcinoma, 101 tumors (82.1%) were resected. Factors significantly correlated with improved survival were resection (p < 0.01), and in resected tumors, negative nodes (p = 0.04) and margins (p = 0.02) independently predicted for improved survival. In periampullary tumors, the highest rates of resection and overall survival (median, 43.6 months) were found in ampullary carcinomas.Factors predictive of improved survival in ampullary carcinoma include resection, negative margins, and negative nodes. Improved overall survival in ampullary relative to periampullary adenocarcinoma is due in part to a significantly higher rate of resection.