Serous cystadenoma of the pancreas: tumor growth rates and recommendations for treatment

Ann Surg. 2005 Sep;242(3):413-9; discussion 419-21. doi: 10.1097/01.sla.0000179651.21193.2c.


Objective: To define the natural history and optimal management of serous cystadenoma of the pancreas.

Summary background data: Serous cystadenoma of the pancreas is the most common benign pancreatic neoplasm. Diagnostic criteria, potential for growth or malignancy, and outcomes are not well defined. As a result, management for patients with serous cystadenomas varies widely in current practice.

Methods: A total of 106 patients presenting with serous cystadenoma of the pancreas from 1976-2004 were identified. Hospital records were evaluated for patient and tumor characteristics, diagnostic workup, treatment, and outcome. Twenty-four patients with serial radiographic imaging were identified, and tumor growth curves calculated.

Results: Mean age at presentation was 61.5 years and 75% of patients were female. The most common symptoms were abdominal pain (25%), fullness/mass (10%), and jaundice (7%); 47% were asymptomatic. Mean tumor diameter was 4.9 +/- 3.1 cm, which did not vary by location. Tumors <4 cm were less likely to be symptomatic than were tumors > or =4 cm (22% vs. 72%, P < 0.001). The median growth rate in the patients who had serial radiography was 0.60 cm/y. For tumors <4 cm at presentation (n = 15), the rate was 0.12 cm/y, whereas for tumors > or =4 cm (n = 9), the rate was 1.98 cm/y (P = 0.0002). Overall, 86 patients underwent surgery, with one perioperative death.

Conclusions: Large (>4 cm) serous cystadenomas are more likely to be symptomatic. Although the median growth rate for this neoplasm is only 0.6 cm/y, it is significantly greater in large tumors. Whereas expectant management is reasonable in small asymptomatic tumors, we recommend resection for large serous cystadenomas regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cystadenoma, Serous / diagnosis*
  • Cystadenoma, Serous / physiopathology*
  • Cystadenoma, Serous / therapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Health Planning Guidelines
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed