Pancreatic Cysts - Part 2: Should We Be Less Cyst Centric?

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The management of pancreatic cysts is a common problem faced by physicians and surgeons. Pancreatic cysts are important because some of them are mucin-producing cysts (MPCs), which may harbor or develop pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Thus, accurate classification of pancreatic cysts and diagnosis of MPCs offer a potential for the prevention or early detection of pancreatic cancer. However, the diagnosis and management of asymptomatic pancreatic cysts are complicated by 2 factors. First, incidentally detected pancreatic cysts are often misdiagnosed as branch duct intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms. Although most are MPCs, there are other types of cysts, such as serous cystadenomas, which are managed differently. Second, only a minority of MPCs will ultimately develop into invasive pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Thus, on the one hand, pancreatic cysts offer a unique opportunity to identify precursors to pancreatic cancer and improve outcomes. On the other hand, misdiagnosis and overzealous testing or unnecessary surgery may lead to high cost and harm to patients. Several guidelines have been developed by various groups for the management of pancreatic cysts. In this article, we review the strengths and weaknesses of the American Gastroenterology Association guidelines, highlight key recommendations requiring further validation, and provide our balanced approach to diagnosing and managing pancreatic cysts.

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