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

must be carefully tracked, since a small percentage can develop into pancreatic cancer," said study author Dr. James J. Farrell, associate professor of digestive diseases at the Geffen School of Medicine and director of UCLA's Pancreatic Diseases Program.

Using decision-analysis software, the research team evaluated a set of hypothetical patients ranging in age from 65 to 85 with a variety of asymptomatic pancreatic cysts, ranging in size from half a centimeter to greater than 3 cm and located in the head of the pancreas, the most common site for branch duct cysts.

The evaluation tool compared four competing treatment strategies: surgical removal of the cyst, annual non-invasive imaging surveillance with MRI or CT, annual endoscopic ultrasound and no treatment.

While the tool takes into account patient age, health, cyst size and surgical risk, it also considers whether the patient values overall survival, no matter the quality of life, or if he or she prefers balancing quantity and quality of life by pursuing less invasive medical measures, which may lead to shorter survival but a better quality of life.

The researchers found that to maximize overall survival, regardless of the quality of life, surgical removal was the dominant strategy for a cyst greater than 2 cm, despite the patient's age or other health issues this is smaller than the 3 cm threshold supported by current treatment guidelines for surgical intervention. Surveillance was the dominant strategy for any cyst less than 1 cm, which is similar to current guidelines.

For patients focused on optimizing both quantity and quality of life, either the "do nothing" approach or surveillance strategy appeared optimal for those between the ages of 65 and 75 with cysts less than 3 cm. For patients over age 85, non-invasive surveillance dominated if quality of life was important, most likely because surgical benefits are often outweighed by the poor q
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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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