Billy Carter, brother of former president Jimmy Carter, underwent surgery yesterday for cancer of the pancreas at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

A hospital statement said the cancer proved to be inoperable. "The prognosis for someone with pancreatic cancer is poor," said hospital spokeswoman Catherine Grant.

Jimmy Carter spent 30 minutes at the hospital and considered canceling a trip to Columbia, S.C., for a meeting with Pope John Paul II. But after seeing his brother, the former president decided to go ahead with the trip. He and the pope conferred briefly in the Columbia airport.

Asked about his younger brother, Carter said, "Billy is very bad."

Winners of 1987 Ingersoll Prizes

Mexican author Octavio Paz and German philosopher Josef Pieper have been awarded the 1987 Ingersoll Prizes, the Ingersoll Foundation has announced.

Paz will receive the T.S. Eliot Award for Creative Writing, and Pieper will receive the Richard M. Weaver Award for Scholarly Letters. The awards, which carry a cash prize of $15,000 each, recognize authors of lasting influence whose works affirm the moral principles of western civilization, the foundation said.

Paz and Pieper, who were selected by a review panel consisting of foundation officials, writers and scholars, will be awarded their prizes at a black-tie dinner Nov. 5 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, said John Howard, the foundation's president.

Divorce Granted to the Towers

A District of Columbia judge has granted an uncontested divorce to former Texas senator John Tower and his wife of 10 years, Lilla Burt Cummings Tower, court clerks said yesterday.

Associate Judge Sylvia Bacon granted the divorce Thursday, her clerk said.

The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday that John Tower agreed to relinquish any claim to their Washington home and also agreed to drop his request that the case be moved to Texas, a community property state where alimony is not paid.

In addition, Tower agreed to provide his ex-wife, a retired lawyer, an unspecified amount of support. By court order, it will be taken directly from his government retirement fund.

Andy Gibb Files for Bankruptcy

Pop singer Andy Gibb, whose three older brothers shot to stardom as the Bee Gees, has filed a personal bankruptcy petition, saying he has less than $50,000 to his name and more than $1 million in debts.

A Miami resident who lives in a penthouse apartment overlooking Biscayne Bay, Gibb filed for Chapter 7 relief on Wednesday under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Once a plan of repayment is worked out, the 29-year-old entertainer will be allowed to keep only $1,000 in personal property and any primary residence he owns.

Gibb is best known for his songs "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" and "Shadow Dancing." He also hosted the syndicated television music show "Solid Gold."