Neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas: Degree of cystic component predicts prognosis

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Abstract

Background.

Although most pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are solid, approximately 10% are cystic. Some studies have suggested that cystic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are associated with a more favorable prognosis.

Methods.

A retrospective review of all patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors who underwent operative resection between 1999 and 2014 at a single academic medical center was performed. Based on cross-sectional imaging performed before operation, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors were classified according to the size of the cystic component relative to the total tumor size: purely cystic (100%), mostly cystic (≥50%), mostly solid (<50%), and purely solid (0%). Clinicopathologic characteristics and recurrence-free survival were assessed between groups.

Results.

In the study, 214 patients met inclusion criteria: 8 with purely cystic tumors, 7 with mostly cystic tumors, 15 with mostly solid tumors, and 184 with purely solid tumors. The groups differed in terms of tumor size (1.5 ± 0.5, 3.0 ± 1.7, 3.7 ± 2.6, and 4.0 ± 3.5 cm), lymph node positivity (0%, 0%, 26.7%, and 34.2%), intermediate or high grade (0%, 16.7%, 20.0%, and 31.0%), synchronous liver metastases (0%, 14.3%, 20.0%, and 26.6%) and need for pancreaticoduodenectomy (0%, 0%, 6.7%, and 25.0%), respectively. No cases of purely cystic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors were associated with synchronous liver or lymph node metastasis, intermediate/high grade, recurrence, or death due to disease. Among patients presenting without metastatic disease, 10-year recurrence-free survival was 100% in patients with purely and mostly cystic tumors versus 53.0% in patients with purely and mostly solid tumors; however, this difference did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusion.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors demonstrate a spectrum of biologic behavior with an increasing cystic component being associated with more favorable clinicopathologic features and prognosis. Purely cystic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors may represent 1 subset that can be safely observed without immediate resection.

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