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New tool developed to help guide pancreatic cyst treatment
Date:2/24/2010

As a result of improved imaging technology, pancreatic cysts are increasingly diagnosed in asymptomatic individuals who undergo scans for other reasons. And while most of these cysts follow a benign course, a small but significant number are either malignant at the time of diagnosis or have the potential to develop into pancreatic cancer during a patient's lifetime.

The dilemma for both patient and clinician is determining which cysts to leave alone and which to surgically remove. Existing treatment guidelines don't clearly address many treatment options beyond the removal of part of the pancreas a major undertaking for an asymptomatic lesion.

Now, a UCLAVeterans Affairs research team has developed an evaluation tool to help guide asymptomatic pancreatic cyst treatment. Published in the February issue of the journal Gastroenterology, the tool takes into account overall health, age, cyst size, surgical risk and patients' views about quality of life.

"Surgery may not be the best initial approach for all patients diagnosed with a specific pancreatic cyst. The new tool may help with decision-making and mapping out a treatment plan," said study author Dr. Brennan Spiegel, director of the UCLAVA Center for Outcomes Research and Education at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

The diagnosis of asymptomatic cysts has increased fivefold over the past decade, due partly to an aging population and to improved diagnostics. Current imaging techniques including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and endoscopic ultrasound, in which a small camera is inserted down the throat and into the stomach and small bowel to image the pancreas combined with pancreatic cyst fluid analysis, offer an 80 percent accuracy in cyst diagnosis.

"Pancreatic cysts are most often diagnosed in an older population, and although many are benign, these
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Contact: Rachel Champeau
rchampeau@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2270
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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