The annual incidence of pancreatic carcinoma has been increasing worldwide, and the overall 5-year survival rate has remained at approximately 5%. We re-evaluated 30 autopsy cases histologically diagnosed as pancreatic carcinoma from 1994 through 2010 at Nippon Medical School Hospital. The mean patient age was 69.5 years, with no significant differences between male and female patients. The location of the primary tumor was most often the head of the pancreas (46.7%), followed by the body (36.7%) and tail (16.7%). All patients had advanced-stage pancreatic carcinoma at diagnosis, which limited the therapeutic options. Surgical resection, radiation, and surgical resection with chemotherapy were each performed for a single patient, and chemotherapy was performed for 5 patients. The other patients received only symptomatic therapy. The mean survival time from the first medical examination to death was short (5.5 months; range, 1-40 months). The cases were classified into 28 ductal adenocarcinomas, 1 acinar cell carcinoma, and 1 intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) with an associated invasive carcinoma. Death in most cases was directly related to the pancreatic carcinoma, including cachexia, carcinomatous peritonitis and pleuritis, hepatic failure and ileus due to metastasis, and malignancy-related disorders, such as coagulation disorders and immunodeficiency. The most frequent site of metastasis was the lymph nodes, followed by the liver, peritoneum, spleen, lung and/or pleura, small intestine, adrenal gland, kidney, omentum, diaphragm, and bone. We classified the autopsy cases as showing distant metastasis or local infiltration. All cases with local infiltration were located in the pancreatic head, but no difference was seen in other clinicopathological features between cases with local infiltration and cases with distant metastasis. Thus, the autopsies revealed an extremely poor prognosis for pancreatic carcinoma due to the tumor itself and malignancy-related disorders. The progression pattern (i.e., local infiltration or distant metastasis) may correlate with the location of the primary tumor.
2012 by the Medical Association of Nippon Medical School