Patients presenting with a pancreatic mass often have a curable lesion rather than the more common adenocarcinoma. Greater awareness of this among nonsurgeons is necessary.
Retrospective case series.
Tertiary care referral hospital.
All patients who presented with a pancreatic mass during the 8 years from 1990 to 1998 were studied. Patients with a history of chronic pancreatitis, a functioning pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, or pancreatic adenocarcinoma were excluded. Forty patients were identified, demographic and clinical characteristics recorded, and long-term follow-up obtained.
Therapy included either a Whipple procedure or distal pancreatectomy. Two patients underwent a biliary bypass.
Main Outcome Measures
Tumor histology, morbidity, and survival.
Three hundred thirty-six patients with a pancreatic mass were treated during this 8-year period. Two hundred ninety-six of these had pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Forty (11.9%) of the 336 patients had other types of pancreatic tumors. Two thirds of these patients were female, with an average age of 57 years. Seventy-five percent of these tumors were either malignant or potentially malignant. In several instances, cystic tumors were diagnosed as inflammatory pseudocysts and managed accordingly. Fourteen (35%) of 40 patients had no symptoms and their tumor was found on a computed tomographic scan performed for another indication. Percutaneous biopsy was performed in 9 patients, of whom 5 were assigned an incorrect diagnosis. There were no operative deaths, although the postoperative complication rate was 23%.
In this series, nearly 12% of patients presenting with a pancreatic mass did not have pancreatic adenocarcinoma, but rather more favorable lesions amenable to operation. Preoperative biopsy should not be carried out. Curative procedures can be safely performed in centers seeing a large number of patients with pancreatic tumors, and the long-term results of extirpation are excellent.