Cancer of the pancreas remains one of the greatest clinical challenges in oncology. With no reliable screening tests and a poor prognosis following identification, the need for novel approaches toward this disease remains largely unmet.
In recent years, however, pre-malignant pancreatic cystic lesions have been increasingly discovered in patients undergoing cross-sectional imaging for unrelated reasons. While over half of pancreatic cystic lesions have little to no malignant potential, mucinous cystic neoplasms (MCNs) and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) can carry a high potential for progression into pancreatic cancer.
Discovering a pancreatic cyst poses a new set of difficulties. According to Matthew T. Moyer, M.D. M.S., associate professor of medicine, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, “Either serial radiographic surveillance or surgical resection is generally recommended for these cysts, both of which have significant limitations. Surveillance is inconvenient and expensive with no therapeutic aspect, while surgical resection is associated with a significant risk of morbidity (20 to 40 percent) and mortality (1 to 2 percent).” Continue reading