What is a pancreatic cyst?
Pancreatic cysts are pockets of fluid on or in the pancreas, an accessory organ of the digestive system that produces digestive enzymes and hormones. Most pancreatic cysts are not cancerous and usually do not produce symptoms. Some, however, may be precursors to pancreatic cancer.
Once pancreatic cysts are found (usually during an unrelated imaging exam, such as a CT scan or MRI), your physician may need to take a sample of the fluid in the cyst to check for pre-cancerous or cancerous features depending on the size of your cyst.
Since suspicious and previously undiagnosed pancreatic cysts rarely create symptoms and pancreatic cancer can spread rapidly, determining whether cysts are benign, pre-cancerous, or cancerous is incredibly important; this early and accurate diagnosis is even more important if the patient is experiencing the previously noted symptoms or risk factors.
Pancreatic cysts are being found more frequently because of the improvements in imaging technology, and only a physician with the right diagnostic tools can determine if a suspicious pancreatic cyst is cancerous.
It is equally important to determine if a cyst is benign, as not every cyst is cancerous or precancerous. Having a lesion is not a cause for immediate concern; however, not knowing the kind of lesion is cause for concern.