Pancreatic Tumors

Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 337-344

First online:

Standardization of Surgical and Pathologic Variables is Needed in Multicenter Trials of Adjuvant Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer: Results from the ACOSOG Z5031 Trial

  • Matthew H. G. KatzAffiliated withDepartment of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Email author 
  • , Nipun B. MerchantAffiliated withDivision of Surgical Oncology, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University
  • , Steven BrowerAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Anderson Cancer Institute, Memorial University Medical Center
  • , Megan BrandaAffiliated withDivision of Health Sciences Research, The Mayo Clinic
  • , Mitchell C. PosnerAffiliated withDivision of Surgical Oncology, The University of Chicago Medical Center
  • , L. William TraversoAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Virginia Mason Medical Center
  • , Ross A. AbramsAffiliated withDepartment of Radiation Oncology, Rush University Medical Center
  • , Vincent J. PicozziAffiliated withDepartment of Medical Oncology, Virginia Mason Medical Center
  • , Peter W. T. PistersAffiliated withDepartment of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
    • , The American College of Surgeons Oncology Group

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Standardization of surgical and pathologic techniques is crucial to the interpretation of studies evaluating adjuvant therapies for pancreatic cancer (PC).


To assess the degree to which treatment administered prior to enrollment of patients in trials of adjuvant therapy is quality controlled, the operative and pathology reports of patients in American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) Z5031—a national trial of chemoradiation following pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD)—were rigorously evaluated. We analyzed variables with the potential to influence staging or outcome.


80 patients reported to have undergone R0 (75%) or R1 (25%) pylorus-preserving (38%) or standard (62%) PD were evaluated. A search for metastases was documented in 96% of cases. The proximity of the tumor to the superior mesenteric vein was reported in 69%; vein resection was required in 9% and lateral venorrhaphy in 14%. The method of dissection along the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) was described in 68%, being ultrasonic dissection (17%), stapler (24%), and clamp and cut (59%). SMA skeletonization was described in 25%, and absence of disease following resection was documented in 24%. The surgeon reported marking the critical SMA margin in 25%; inking was documented in 65% of cases and evaluation of the SMA margin was reported in 47%. A range of 1–49 lymph nodes was evaluated. Only 34% of pathology reports met College of American Pathologists criteria.


Trials of adjuvant therapy following PD suffer from a lack of standardization and quality control prior to patient enrollment. These data suggest areas for improvement in the design of multidisciplinary treatment protocols.