Cystic tumours of the pancreas: a diagnostic dilemma

L L Ooi, G H Ho, S P Chew, C H Low, K C Soo
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery 1998, 68 (12): 844-6

BACKGROUND: Cystic neoplasm of the pancreas is an uncommon entity that encompasses a range of tumours with varying potential for malignancy. These tumours are frequently misdiagnosed as pseudocysts and are inappropriately managed.

METHODS: A retrospective review was undertaken of 18 cases of cystic tumours of the pancreas over an 8-year period in two large hospitals in Singapore.

RESULTS: All patients were Asian, with a younger age group (mean 43.5 years) and a lesser degree of female predominance (3.5:1 ratio) compared to other series. Pain was the most common symptom. Pre-operative diagnosis using ultrasound and computed tomography was not diagnostic in half of the cases and misdiagnosed as pseudocyst in a sixth. There were five serous cystadenomas, four mucinous cystadenomas, two mucinous cystadenocarcinomas, one mucinous cystadenocarcinoma with cystic degeneration in a ductal adenocarcinoma, three Frantz tumours, one acinar cell tumour, one glucagonoma, and one benign epithelial cyst. Two-thirds of tumours were malignant or had the potential to become malignant. Resection was curative in all cases, and no recurrence was noted at a mean follow-up of 34.5 months.

CONCLUSIONS: The difficulties with pre-operative diagnosis, the high incidence of tumours with potential malignancy, and the good outcome with resection, suggest that all suspected cystic tumours of the pancreas should be resected.

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