JOURNAL ARTICLE

Prospective study on the incidence, prevalence and 5-year pancreatic-related mortality of pancreatic cysts in a population-based study

Marie-Luise Kromrey, Robin Bülow, Jenny Hübner, Christin Paperlein, Markus M Lerch, Till Ittermann, Henry Völzke, Julia Mayerle, Jens-Peter Kühn
Gut 2018, 67 (1): 138-145
28877981

OBJECTIVE: To analyse the prevalence, incidence and clinical relevance of pancreatic cysts detected as incidental finding in a population-based longitudinal study.

DESIGN: A total of 1077 participants (521 men, mean age 55.8±12.8 years) of 2333 participants from the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP) underwent magnetic resonance cholangiopancreaticography (MRCP) at baseline (2008-2012). MRCP was analysed for pancreatic cysts with a diameter ≥2 mm. 676/1077 subjects received a 5-year follow-up (2014-2016). The prevalence and incidence of pancreatic cysts (weighted for study participation) were assessed in association to age, gender and suspected epidemiological risk factors. Mortality follow-up was performed in 2015 for all SHIP participants (mean follow-up period 5.9 years, range 3.2-7.5 years).

RESULTS: At baseline pancreatic cysts had a weighted prevalence of 49.1%, with an average number of 3.9 (95% CI 3.2 to 4.5) cysts per subject in the subgroup harbouring cysts. Cyst size ranged from 2 to 29 mm. Prevalence (p<0.001), number (p=0.001) and maximum size (p<0.001) increased significantly with age. The 5-year follow-up revealed a weighted incidence of 12.9% newly detected pancreatic cysts. 57.1% of the subjects initially harbouring pancreatic cysts showed an increase in number and/or maximum cyst size. Of all subjects undergoing MRCP, no participant died of pancreatic diseases within mortality follow-up.

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of pancreatic cysts in the general population is unexpectedly high, and their number and size increase with age. Overall, no pancreatic cancer was observed in this collective during a 5-year follow-up. Nevertheless, prospective follow-up imaging showed minimal progress in more than 50%. Only about 6% of cysts and 2.5% of the study group initially presented with cysts of more than 1 cm and thus might be clinically meaningful.

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