Background Several studies have demonstrated that postoperative complications after pancreatectomy for pancreatic cancer adversely affect survival. The impact on survival of a pancreatic fistula according to the classification of the International Study Group for Pancreatic Surgery has not been fully evaluated. The aim of this multicenter, observational study was to evaluate the impact of pancreatic fistula on pancreatic cancer patients who had undergone pancreatectomy. Methods Between 2001 and 2012, 1,397 patients who underwent pancreatectomy for pancreatic cancer at 7 high-volume centers in Japan were reviewed retrospectively. The impact of pancreatic fistula on survival was evaluated by univariate and multivariate analysis. Results Pancreatic fistula occurred in 327 of 1,397 patients (23.4%) and was classified based on the International Study Group for Pancreatic Surgery as follows: grade A in 9.9%, grade B in 10.6%, and grade C in 2.9% of the patients. Median survival time in no fistula/grade A, grade B, and grade C were 23.6, 26.0, and 9.0 months, respectively. There was no significant difference in overall survival between patients with no fistula/grade A and those with grade B (P = .403); in contrast, overall survival in patients with grade C was worse than in patients without grade C (P < .001). The multivariate Cox proportional hazard analysis demonstrated that grade C pancreatic fistula was an independent prognostic factor (hazard ratio 1.59; 95% confidence interval, 1.03–2.45; P = .035). Conclusion Grade B pancreatic fistula after pancreatectomy does not adversely affect long-term survival, but a grade C pancreatic fistula has a negative impact on long-term survival of patients with pancreatic cancer.
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