The Whipple procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy) is an operation to remove pancreatic cancer from the head or neck of the pancreas, where this cancer most commonly occurs. It can also be used to treat bile duct cancer, cancer of the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) and non-cancerous (benign) cysts and lesions.
In the Whipple procedure, about half the pancreas, most of the duodenum, the gallbladder, the end of the common bile duct and sometimes part of the stomach are all removed. Your doctor reconnects the parts that are necessary to digest your food: the intestine, bile duct and remaining part of the pancreas.
This operation is the only way to have a chance of curing pancreatic cancer. You’re a candidate for a Whipple procedure if your pancreatic cancer is only in the head and neck of the pancreas and hasn’t spread to other organs, lymph nodes or blood vessels.