Digestive Health

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cysts and Masses

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cysts and Masses

You may have pancreatic cysts but experience no symptoms. Pancreatic cysts are often discovered incidentally during imaging tests of the abdomen that the patient is undergoing for a different reason. Sometimes, pancreatic cysts are discovered due to pain or after an attack of pancreatitis.

When signs or symptoms do occur, they may include:

Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cysts and Masses

Our Therapeutic Endoscopists (gastroenterologists with specialized training in endoscopic procedures) utilize advanced diagnostic tools such as endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) in order to visualize the cyst and help identify which type it might be. Endoscopic ultrasound also allows fine needle aspiration of the cyst. This enables analysis with tumor markers and cytology to help diagnose the nature of the cyst, which is critical in developing an effective treatment plan.

In observing a pancreatic mass, EUS provides our specialists with the tools to examine the pancreas at very close distance, providing detailed information of the pancreatic mass. Utilizing EUS, we obtain tissue of the mass with fine needle aspiration. The tissue sample is then interpreted by our pathologists to help discriminate among the various causes of pancreatic masses.

In the event that cancer is suspected, the Benign Pancreas Program and Stanford's world class Cancer Center collaborate closely to ensure a coordinated treatment strategy. Stanford's Benign Pancreas Program is uniquely qualified to treat both pancreatic cysts and pancreatic masses.

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