Peter J. Allen


Associate Director for Clinical Programs, David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research; Murray F. Brennan Chair in Surgery

About Me

I am a surgical oncologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating people with cancerous or precancerous conditions of the pancreas, liver, bile duct, and stomach. My initial general surgical training was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, followed by a surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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After my fellowship here in 2004, as part of my service to the U.S. Army, I served for a year as a surgeon on a small trauma team in Iraq called the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment Forward Surgical Team. During this time we provided acute trauma care to soldiers injured in combat, as well as surgical care to Iraqi patients in hospitals in Baghdad and surrounding villages. I was honored to receive the Combat Medical Badge in 2004 for providing surgical care during combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since returning to MSK, my particular interest and expertise has become managing patients with pancreatic cancer and pancreatic cysts. Pancreatic cysts are abnormal sac-like pockets of fluid that grow in the pancreas. These tumors may be benign or precancerous and typically require very careful monitoring over time.

When an operation is required, I try to incorporate minimally invasive (laparoscopic and robotic) techniques as well as other therapies to help minimize my patients’ recovery time and discomfort following surgery. I see hundreds of patients a year with these complicated issues.

One of the reasons that I have been committed to MSK for so much of my career is that I can see what a difference our expertise — as well as our universal focus on compassionate care — can make in the lives of our patients. Our surgery team is composed of national leaders in all areas of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and our group currently performs 800 to 1,000 pancreatic, liver, and stomach operations a year.

If you or a loved one has cancer of the pancreas, liver, or stomach, you may already know that multiple approaches – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy – to treatment are often needed. I see our patients benefit in so many ways from our tightly coordinated team approach to care that begins at initial diagnosis and carries on throughout treatment.

I currently lead the pancreatic research efforts within our Department of Surgery. One of the primary goals of this program is to develop more-accurate nonsurgical methods for diagnosing pancreatic cysts. These methods should help guide doctors in deciding which patients should have an operation and which can effectively be monitored through imaging.

In addition, I currently lead or participate in clinical trials that are evaluating novel methods of diagnosing and treating pancreatic cancer, as well as methods for decreasing the risks of surgery. Patients participating in these trials are able to receive these cutting-edge therapies before they are accessible nationally.

I am board certified in surgery and lecture nationally and internationally on the topic of pancreatic malignancies. These educational efforts are directed toward other practicing surgeons as well as our own trainees. I enjoy teaching and mentoring the next generation of surgeons and was thrilled to receive the 2007 Teacher of the Year Award, selected by fellows from MSK’s Department of Surgery.

  • Clinical Expertise: Malignant and premalignant diseases of the pancreas; liver and bile duct cancer; gastric cancer; disorders of the adrenal gland
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: MD, Dartmouth Medical School
  • Residencies: Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
  • Fellowships: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Board Certifications: Surgery

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Selected Book Chapters
“Cystic neoplasms of the pancreas: epidemiology, clinical features, assessment and management.” Mezhir JJ, Allen PJ. In: Blumgart’s Surgery of the Liver, Biliary Tract, and Pancreas. Jarnagin WR, ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2012.

“Distal pancreatectomy – open.” Winter J, and Allen PJ. In: Master Techniques in General Surgery: Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery. Lillemoe K, Jarnagin WR, eds. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013.

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“Cystic tumors of the pancreas.” Allen PJ and Brennan MF. In: Surgical Management of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Disorders. 2nd ed. Poston GJ, D’Angelica M, Adam R, eds. New York: Informa Healthcare; 2011.

Visit PubMed for a full listing of Peter J. Allen’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.