Next-generation sequencing adds value to the preoperative diagnosis of pancreatic cysts

Matthew W. Rosenbaum, Martin Jones, Jonathan C. Dudley, Long P. Le, A. John Iafrate, Martha B. Pitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of a pancreatic cyst as mucinous or high-risk dictates the need for follow-up or surgery. Molecular analysis of aspirated pancreatic cyst fluid (PCF) can provide valuable information not obtained by carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) analysis or cytology. METHODS: All patients who underwent molecular analysis of PCF between March 2013 and June 2015 were reviewed, including pathology, imaging, and follow-up. Molecular testing was performed using a patented, anchored multiplex polymerase chain reaction next-generation sequencing (NGS) platform, which sequenced numerous hotspots in 39 genes linked with malignancy. Performance of NGS and cytology was calculated using final outcome, as determined by clinicopathologic follow-up. RESULTS: The study cohort included 113 PCFs from 105 patients. In total, 119 variants were detected in 67 PCFs (59%). Variants were more common in intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs)/cancer than in nonmucinous cysts (P <.005). The inclusion of v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS)/guanine nucleotide-binding protein (GNAS) variants improved the classification of IPMNs as mucinous from 50% by microscopy to 100%. Seventy-five percent of cancers had high-grade atypia versus 0% of IPMNs and nonmucinous cysts (P <.002). Variants in tumor protein 53 (TP53), SMAD family member 4 (SMAD4), cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A), and notch1 (NOTCH1) were detected only in malignant cysts. Cytology was similarly specific (100%) for detecting malignant cysts but was more sensitive than the identification of late mutations by NGS (75% vs 46%). CONCLUSIONS: The detection of KRAS/GNAS variants improves the identification of mucinous neoplasms. Variants in TP53, SMAD4, CDKN2A, and NOTCH1 support the diagnosis of a high-risk cyst requiring surgery or additional sampling. Although molecular analysis is not a replacement for cytopathology, it does provide valuable information for accurate preoperative diagnosis, helping to classify mucinous neoplasms and high-risk cysts that require surgical resection. Cancer Cytopathol 2017;125:41-47.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Cytopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA sequencing
  • adenocarcinoma mucinous
  • carcinoma
  • digestive system
  • early detection of cancer
  • endoscopy
  • molecular sequence data
  • pancreas
  • pancreatic cyst
  • pancreatic ductal
  • pancreatic neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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