Pancreatic Mass of Unusual Etiology: Case Report of Metastatic Disease After a Prolonged Lag Phase

Haque, Saadiya; Gopaldas, Raja R.; Plymyer, Matthew R.; Glantz, Andrew I.
December 2005
American Surgeon;Dec2005, Vol. 71 Issue 12, p1082
Academic Journal
Although not a typical site, the pancreas does occasionally harbor metastatic disease. Management of these metastases differs from the management of conventional primary cancers. Our case is one of an 85-year-old female presenting with obstructive jaundice and whose workup revealed a pancreatic mass. Her past medical history included a mastectomy 14 years previous for invasive lobular carcinoma. She underwent celiotomy, and an intraoperative diagnosis of metastatic lobular carcinoma of the breast was made based on frozen section. Due to pulmonary metastasis and vascular infiltration, which precluded pancreatoduodenectomy, the patient underwent palliative bypass and fared well postoperatively. With more aggressive management of primary breast cancers in the past decade, isolated metastatic disease is of increasing concern and raises questions about surgical strategies to be implemented with these patients. For instance, should palliative treatment be considered or should a radical intention to cure procedure be performed despite the metastatic disease? Factors favoring radical procedures include prolonged lag phase between the primary and the recurrence; presence of well-differentiated tumors; and isolated metastatic disease. Primary lung and renal cancers metastasize more frequently than breast cancers do to the pancreas. Hence, existing literature has not clearly defined indications for radical treatment of metastatic breast cancers to the pancreas. Based on experiences with metastatic renal and lung cancers, one can reasonably infer that radical procedures performed on selected cases could possibly achieve a cure or prolonged disease-free survival. The key factor in determining whether the patient undergoes palliative versus radical treatment is a slow growth pattern of the tumor, characterized by a prolonged lag phase between the primary and the metastatic disease.


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