Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas is a common and dreadful disease with an extremely poor prognosis. In practice, only a few patients are cured but surgical resection, although feasible in less than 20% of patients, offers maximum prolongation of life and provides good palliation of symptoms. This can now be performed safely, even in elderly patients, in specialist units. Better radiological imaging and laparoscopy allow selection of resectable tumours effectively. All patient with pancreatic cancer should now be assessed for surgical resection and potentially suitable patients should be referred to a specialist team at an early stage.