PURPOSE: Currently, pancreatic exocrine carcinomas present with low resectability rates and poor survival, even after curative surgery. In this article, the clinicopathological characteristics, and treatment outcomes, of patients are analyzed and discussed. METHODS: Between 1983 and 2000, 106 exocrine pancreatic carcinoma patients were operated on at our institute. The medical records of 95 patients diagnosed with a ductal adenocarcinoma were reviewed, and the postoperative follow up results analyzed. RESULTS: The locations of the tumors were the head, body and diffusely spread in 76 (80.0%), 17 (17.9%) and 2 (2.1%) patients, respectively. Of the 95 patients, 29 underwent surgical resection (resectability rate; 30.6%), 33 palliative bypass procedures and the other 33 an exploration only. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates in the resection group were 66.7%, 19.8% and 9.9%, respectively. In the non- resection group the 1-year survival rate was 3.3%, with a mean survival period of 5.5 months. The overall 1-, 3- and 5-year survival rates were 23.0%, 6.6%, and 3.3%, respectively. From a multivariate analysis, the location of tumor (P= 0.0067), TNM stage (P=0.0010) and resectability of tumor (P<0.0001) were all significant prognostic factors. CONCLUSION: Pancreatic carcinomas have very low resectability, with a bad prognosis, and long term survival can only be obtained by their early detection and curative resection.