Patient- and cyst-related factors for improved prediction of malignancy within cystic lesions of the pancreas

Jonathan M. Buscaglia, Samuel A. Giday, Sergey V. Kantsevoy, Sanjay B. Jagannath, Priscilla Magno, Christopher L. Wolfgang, Jason A. Daniels, Marcia I. Canto, Patrick I. Okolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background and Aims: Early diagnosis of cancer in pancreatic cysts is important for timely referral to surgery. The aim of this study was to develop a predictive model for pancreatic cyst malignancy to improve patient selection for surgical resection. Methods: We performed retrospective analyses of endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and pathology databases identifying pancreatic cysts with available final pathological diagnoses. Main-duct intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) were excluded due to the clear indication for surgery. Patient demographics and symptoms, cyst morphology, and cyst fluid characteristics were studied as candidate risk factors for malignancy. Results: 270 patients with pancreatic cysts were identified and analyzed (41% men, mean age 61.8 years). Final pathological diagnoses were branch-duct IPMN (n = 118, 50% malignant), serous cystadenoma (n = 71), pseudocyst (n = 37), mucinous cyst adenoma/adenocarcinoma (n = 36), islet cell tumor (n = 4), simple cyst (n = 3), and ductal adenocarcinoma with cystic degeneration (n = 1). Optimal cut-off points for surgical resection were cyst fluid carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) ≥3,594 ng/ml, age >50, and cyst size >1.5 cm. Cyst malignancy was independently associated with white race (OR = 4.1, p = 0.002), weight loss (OR = 3.9, p = 0.001), cyst size >1.5 cm (OR = 2.4, p = 0.012), and high CEA ≥3,594 (OR = 5.3, p = 0.04). In white patients >50 years old presenting with weight loss and cyst size >1.5 cm, the likelihood of malignancy was nearly sixfold greater than in those patients who had none of these factors (OR = 5.8, 95% CI = 2.1-16.1, p = 0.004). Conclusions: Risk factors other than cyst size are important for determination of malignancy in pancreatic cysts. Exceptionally high cyst fluid CEA levels and certain patient-related factors may help to better predict cyst malignancy and the need for surgical treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-638
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Carcinoembryonic antigen
  • Carcinoma in situ
  • Electronic physician record
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms
  • Invasive cancer
  • Mucinous cystic neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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