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Oncologist. 2010;15(12):1294-309. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2010-0151. Epub 2010 Dec 8.

Intraductal papillary mucinous tumors of the pancreas: biology, diagnosis, and treatment.

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  • 1University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Department of General, Vascular, and Thoracic Surgery, Dresden, Germany.


Pancreatic intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) rank among the most common cystic tumors of the pancreas. For a long time they were misdiagnosed as mucinous cystadenocarcinoma, ductal adenocarcinoma in situ, or chronic pancreatitis. Only in recent years have IPMNs been fully recognized as clinical and pathological entities, although their origin and molecular pathogenesis remain poorly understood. IPMNs are precursors of invasive carcinomas. When resected in a preinvasive state patient prognosis is excellent, and even when they are already invasive, patient prognosis is more favorable than with ductal adenocarcinomas. Subdivision into macroscopic and microscopic subtypes facilitates further patient risk stratification and directly impacts treatment. There are main duct and branch duct IPMNs, with the main duct type including the intestinal, pancreatobiliary, and oncocytic types and the branch duct type solely harboring the gastric type. Whereas main duct IPMNs have a high risk for malignant progression, demanding their resection, branch duct IPMNs have a much lower risk for harboring malignancy. Patients with small branch duct/gastric-type IPMNs (<2 cm) without symptoms or mural nodules can be managed by periodic surveillance.

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