Pancreatic cyst is a general term referring to a fluid-filled
tumor in the pancreas. Most often the term is used to refer to a
specific type of pancreatic cyst—called an intraductal papillary
mucinous neoplasm, or IPMN. IPMNs are important because they have
the potential to progress to cancer.
IPMNs can form in the main pancreatic duct, the branch ducts, or both.
Those that form in the main duct are highly likely to contain either
high-grade dysplasia (advanced precancer) or invasive cancer. Thus, it
is crucial to detect IPMNs as early as possible and to evaluate them
carefully for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells. This
allows the opportunity to intervene before a tough-to-treat pancreatic
Lankenau Medical Center is home to a team of physicians dedicated to
detection, evaluation, and management of pancreatic cysts. Our team uses
the most advanced tools available and is guided by the best-available
science. This is an emerging and critically important topic in the realm
of pancreatic cancer, and our specialists are closely following the
science and applying it in practice.
IPMNs often are initially detected as a cystic lesion on an abdominal CT
or MRI scan performed for an unrelated reason or to evaluate abdominal
pain. A formal evaluation of the cyst is then performed, which typically
includes a repeat (dedicated) CT or MRI evaluation and endoscopic
ultrasound. During the endoscopic procedure, cyst fluid is extracted
with a tiny needle and then analyzed for the presence of precancerous or
cancerous cells and other characteristics. Results from the fluid
analysis are used to guide decisions about whether to closely monitor
the cyst or remove it.
The treatment for pancreatic cysts can be either endoscopic or surgical
depending on whether the cyst is benign or malignant.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.