Overview of the clinical problem: Facts and current issues of mucinous cystic neoplasms of the pancreas
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Pancreatic cystic lesions are uncommon and consist of pseudocysts, congenital cysts and cystic neoplasms including mucinous cystic neoplasms, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms and serous cystic neoplasms. Mucinous cystic neoplasms are large septated cysts without connection to the ductal system, characterised by the presence of thick-walled ovarian-type stroma and mucin. They occur predominantly in women and often are malignant. Therefore, surgical resection is recommended. Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms are neoplasms with tall, columnar, mucin-containing epithelium involving the main pancreatic ducts or major side branches. Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms occur in men and women in their 60s and 70s and may differentiate into malignant neoplasms. Therefore, surgical resection is mandatory. Serous cystic neoplasms appear as multiple cysts lined with cubic flat epithelium containing glycogen-rich cells with clear cytoplasm. They mainly occur in women in their 50s and are generally benign. Therefore, a conservative approach is recommended. As both mucinous cystic neoplasm and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms have a high malignant potential, it is important to differentiate between the various pancreatic cystic lesions. Several imaging techniques and tumour markers have been evaluated. Nonetheless, definitive guidelines to differentiate between serous cystic neoplasms, mucinous cystic neoplasms and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms are still poorly defined. A number of management issues regarding these neoplasms are still under debate, for example which imaging technique to use, differentiation between malignant or benign lesions and the preferred treatment modality for each pancreatic cystic neoplasm. Further research may lead to a definitive guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of mucinous cystic neoplasms, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms and serous cystic neoplasms.