Evaluation and management of pancreatic lesions in patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease

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Abstract

von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is a heritable cancer-predisposition syndrome with multiorgan involvement. Pancreatic lesions are detected in approximately two-thirds of patients with VHL disease at some point during their lifetime. In these patients, cystic pancreatic lesions are almost exclusively benign and, unless symptomatic, do not require surgical or endoscopic intervention; however, solid pancreatic lesions can often be recognized through imaging screens, and are commonly found to be nonfunctioning pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (pNETs) with malignant potential. The natural history of these VHL-associated pNETs is variable, and lacks clinical or imaging features that predict disease progression or metastatic potential, and generally needs to be managed more conservatively than their sporadic counterparts. Treatment options for such lesions, which range from active surveillance to surgical intervention, can nevertheless be associated with considerable morbidity and even mortality. Of note, although several guidelines have been established for the management of tumours associated with VHL syndrome, none of these have specifically focused on pancreatic lesions. Thus, we aim to characterize the types of pancreatic lesions associated with VHL disease and their natural history, to identify particular lesions that necessitate treatment, and to define what forms of treatment should be undertaken.

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