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AIM: Minimally invasive techniques have a definite role in the surgical treatment of several gastrointestinal tract cancers but there is still no widespread use of the laparoscopic approach for cancers of the head of the pancreas. The aim of this retrospective study is to review our experience from 2003 to 2013 in the management of pancreatic cancer with particular emphasis on the clinical application of minimally invasive techniques. METHODS: One hundred fifty-eight pancreatic cancer patients (median age 69,7±12,6 years) with obstructive jaundice were enrolled in our study. One hundred eighteen (74,7%) had an endoscopic biliary stent, 68 patients (43,03%) were eligible for surgery. Only 22 of the patients eligible for surgical intervention underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD): 14 had open PD and 8 had laparoscopic PD (LPD). Thirteen of the PD patients had a pylorus-preserving procedure (8 open and 5 laparoscopic procedures) whereas in 9 the pylorus was not preserved (6 open and 3 laparoscopic procedures). The other 46 patients had un-resectable tumors and 34 of them underwent palliative surgery consisting of gastrojejunal and hepatojejunal anastomosis (18 open and 6 laparoscopic procedures), and gastrojejunal anastomosis in 10 patients (4 open and 6 laparoscopic procedures). Ten patients had only explorative laparoscopy and 2 only explorative laparotomy. RESULTS: The resectability rate was 13,9%. The median age in patients treated with an endoscopic biliary stent was significantly higher than in those who underwent surgery (73,2±13,3 years vs 64,4±9,6 years; p < 0,05). Operative time in LPD patients was significantly longer than in PD patients (521±68 minutes vs 381±88 minutes; p<0.05). The hospital stay of patients who underwent PD was significantly longer than that of those who underwent palliative surgery (27±4 days vs 10±5 days; p < 0.05). in PD patients the morbidity rate was 22,72 % and the mortality rate 4.5%. CONCLUSIONS: In recent years laparoscopic surgery has become very important in oncologic surgery because it is minimally invasive and reduces postoperative complications and because there is sufficient evidence based data showing that results in terms of complications and survival are as good as the results of conventional surgery. However the learning curve for laparoscopic cancer surgery of the head of the pancreas is steep and our results indicate that in LPD operative time is significantly longer than in PD, and moreover the laparoscopic approach is not associated with a shorter hospital stay. Therefore LPD should be performed only in well-established laparoscopic and oncological centers with a multidisciplinary team.