» Go to news main

Incidence of pancreatic cancer during long‑term follow‑up in patients with incidental pancreatic cysts smaller than 2 cm

Posted by Angie Kinsman, for Dr. Mathew Bligh on January 11, 2022 in Abdominal

A new publication from Dr. Mathew Bligh!

Click here to view the article.



To assess the long-term malignancy risk of incidental small pancreatic cysts.

Materials and methods

In this HIPAA-compliant, IRB-approved, retrospective, multi-institutional study, the long-term incidence of pancreatic cancer was compared between patients with and without small pancreatic cysts. Patients with incidental pancreatic cysts ≥ 0.5 and < 2.0 cm in maximal diameter, detected on MRI performed between 1999 and 2011, represented the “small pancreatic cyst” group. Patients that underwent MRI between 2005 and 2011 and had no reported pancreatic cysts represented the comparison “no cyst” group.


The “small pancreatic cyst” group included 267 patients, ages 63.4 ± 11.8 years, 166/267 (62%) women with a mean follow-up of 8.6 ± 4.3 years, median 9.2 years; the “no cyst” group included 1,459 patients, ages 64.6 ± 12 years, 794/1,459 (54%) women with a mean follow-up of 7.0 ± 4.2 years, median 7.8 (p values 0.12, 0.02, < 0.001, respectively). Two/267 (0.7%) patients developed pancreatic cancer at a separate location from the known cyst in the “small pancreatic cyst” group, with a cancer rate of 0.9 (95% CI 0.1–3.1) cases per 1,000 patient-years. In the “no cyst” cohort, 18/1,459 (1.2%) patients developed pancreatic cancer, with a cancer rate of 1.8 (95% CI 1.2–3.1) cases per 1,000 patient-years (p = 0.6). The all-cause mortality was similar in both groups: 57/267 (21%) vs. 384/1,459 (26%) (p = 0.09).


The long-term risk of pancreatic malignancy in asymptomatic patients with incidental pancreatic cysts less than 2 cm is 0.9 cases per 1,000 patient-years of follow-up, similar to those without pancreatic cysts. These very few pancreatic cancers developed at a separate location from the known cyst.


All comments require a name and email address. You may also choose to log-in using your preferred social network or register with Disqus, the software we use for our commenting system. Join the conversation, but keep it clean, stay on the topic and be brief. Read comments policy.

comments powered by Disqus