Postoperative complications reduce adjuvant chemotherapy use in resectable pancreatic cancer

Ryan P. Merkow*, Karl Y. Bilimoria, James S. Tomlinson, Jennifer L. Paruch, Jason B. Fleming, Mark S. Talamonti, Clifford Y. Ko, David J. Bentrem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

322 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the impact of postoperative complications on the receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy. Background: Randomized trials have demonstrated that adjuvant chemotherapy is associated with improved long-term survival. However, pancreatic surgery is associated with significant morbidity and the degree to which complications limit subsequent treatment options is unknown. Methods: Patients from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and the National Cancer Data Base who underwent pancreatic resection for cancer were linked (2006-2009). The associations between complications and adjuvant chemotherapy use or treatment delay (≥70 days from surgery) were assessed using multivariable regression methods. Results: From 149 hospitals, 2047 patients underwent resection for stage I-III pancreatic adenocarcinoma of which 23.2% had at least 1 serious complication. Overall adjuvant chemotherapy receiptwas 57.7%: 61.8% among patients not experiencing any complication and 43.6% among those who had a serious complication. Serious complications increased the likelihood of not receiving adjuvant therapy over twofold [odds ratio (OR) = 2.20, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.73-2.80]. Specific complications associated with adjuvant chemotherapy omission were reintubation (OR = 7.79, 95% CI: 3.59-16.87), prolonged ventilation (OR = 5.92, 95% CI: 3.23-10.86), pneumonia (OR = 2.83, 95% CI: 1.63-4.90), sepsis/shock (OR = 2.76, 95% CI: 2.02-3.76), organ space/deep surgical site infection (OR = 2.19, 95% CI: 1.53-3.13), venous thromboembolism (OR = 1.92, 95% CI: 1.08-3.43), and urinary tract infection (OR = 1.61, 95% CI: 1.02-2.54). Serious complications also doubled the likelihood of delaying adjuvant treatment administration (OR = 2.08, 95% CI: 1.42-3.05). Sensitivity analysis in a younger, healthier patient cohort demonstrated similar associations. Conclusions: Postoperative complications are common following pancreatic surgery and are associated with adjuvant chemotherapy omission and treatment delays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-377
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Adjuvant therapy
  • Complications
  • NCDB
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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