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J Gastrointest Surg. 2015 Oct;19(10):1813-21. doi: 10.1007/s11605-015-2923-z. Epub 2015 Aug 19.

Initial Misdiagnosis of Proximal Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Is Associated with Delay in Diagnosis and Advanced Stage at Presentation.

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Department of Surgery, University of Utah, 30 North 1900 East, Salt Lake City, UT, 84132, USA.
Department of Surgery, University of Utah, 30 North 1900 East, Salt Lake City, UT, 84132, USA.



Delay in diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is associated with decreased survival. The effect of an initial misdiagnosis on delay in diagnosis and stage of PDAC is unknown.


This study is a retrospective review (2000-2010) from a University-based cancer center of new diagnoses of proximal PDAC.


Of 313 patients, 98 (31.3 %) had an initial misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosed patients were younger, 62.8 ± 12.6 vs. 68.0 ± 10.1 (p < 0.001). The most common initial misdiagnoses were: gallbladder disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and peptic ulcer disease. After excluding patients with prior cholecystectomy, 14.2 % were misdiagnosed with gallbladder disease and underwent cholecystectomy before PDAC diagnosis. Misdiagnosed patients had higher rates of abdominal pain (p < 0.001), weight loss (p = 0.04), and acute pancreatitis (p < 0.001) and lower rate of jaundice (p < 0.001). Median time between symptoms to PDAC diagnosis was longer in misdiagnosed: 4.2 months vs. 1.4 (p < 0.001). Median time from contact with medical provider to axial imaging was longer in misdiagnosed (p < 0.001). Rate of stages III-IV disease at diagnosis was higher in misdiagnosed: 61.2 vs. 43.7 % (p = 0.004), with a 1.4 (95 % confidence interval (CI), 1.12-1.74) higher risk of stages III-IV disease at diagnosis; however, there was no difference in median overall survival in misdiagnosed patients (9.6 months in misdiagnosed vs. 10.3 months in correctly diagnosed, p = 0.69).


Initial misdiagnosis of patients with proximal PDAC is associated with delay in diagnosis and higher risk of locally advanced or advanced disease at time of PDAC diagnosis.


Delay diagnosis; Misdiagnosis; Pancreatic cancer; Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; Stage

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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