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Pathology. 2002 Dec;34(6):504-17.

Premalignant conditions of the pancreas.

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Division of Anatomical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Observatory, South Africa,


Premalignant conditions of the pancreas include benign tumours of the pancreas, intraepithelial neoplasia arising within pancreatic ducts, and tumours of the neuroendocrine cells of the pancreas. In addition, there is a variety of rare genetic conditions that predispose to pancreatic exocrine malignancies such as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome, familial pancreatitis, germline BRCA2 mutations, and pancreatic endocrine malignancies such as type 1 neurofibromatosis (von Recklinghausen's disease) and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1. More controversial is the concept of chronic pancreatitis and diabetes mellitus as conditions that increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. However, there is no doubt that smoking is a potentiating factor for pancreatic cancer, especially in people who have familial/genetic risk factors. This review will include the recently proposed new nomenclature and classification system for intraepithelial neoplasia in the pancreatic ducts, an overview of the various familial syndromes that are associated with an increased risk of pancreatic tumours, the surveillance programmes that have been introduced to monitor such families, and methods for early diagnosis.

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