Pancreatic Cyst

Through advanced imaging tests such as CT or MRI scan, your doctor may discover the presence of pancreatic cysts. This can be quite a frightening revelation to most patients as many may assume it means they have pancreatic cancer. The good news is that this is not always the case.

What are pancreatic cysts?

Pancreatic cysts are fluid-filled growths in the pancreas. The first thing you need to know about pancreatic cysts is that they are not necessarily cancerous. However, the presence of pancreatic cysts is a risk factor for possible development of cancer at later stage of a patient’s life.

There are different types of pancreatic cysts which can be classified as follows:

Types of pancreatic cysts

  • Pancreatic pseudocysts
  • Common cystic neoplasms
  • Serous cystic neoplasm (SCN)
  • Mucinous cystic neoplasm (MCN)
  • Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN)
  • Uncommon cystic neoplasms
  • Solid pseudopapillary epithelial neoplasm
  • Tumours with cystic degeneration
  • Adenocarcinoma, Neuroendocrine Tumour

Among the common cystic neoplasms, there are two important types of pancreatic cysts, which are intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN) and mucinous cystic neoplasms (MCN). These are commonly detected, and are considered to be the most at-risk types, as some may develop into cancer.

Pancreatic Cyst Causes

There are no definite identified causes of pancreatic cysts. Pancreatic pseudocysts can occur after pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or after abdominal injuries. Also, pancreatic cysts are associated with certain genetic or clinical conditions such as ‘von Hippel-Lindau disease’.

Pancreatic cyst symptoms

Pancreatic cysts are generally asymptomatic, and they are usually detected incidentally as part of a health screen or as part of an investigation for an unrelated problem. They may, however, cause mild to severe symptoms that are similar to those of pancreatic cancer.

Gastrointestinal pain, diabetes and jaundice are the possible symptoms that may result from pancreatic cysts. Below is a detailed list of pancreatic cysts symptoms.

  • Abdominal pain typically in the central or upper abdomen, which may extend to the back