Cytologic diagnosis of pancreatic endocrine tumors by endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration: a review

Diagn Cytopathol. 2006 Sep;34(9):649-58. doi: 10.1002/dc.20503.


Precise localization and diagnosis of pancreatic endocrine tumors (PETs) is important, because pancreatic PETs have different clinical and biological behavior and treatment modalities than do exocrine pancreatic tumors. In contrast to the much more common exocrine adenocarcinomas, cytologic studies of PET are relatively rare and many cytopathologists lack experience with the cytomorphologic features of these tumors.During the last 10 yr, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA) has matured into an accurate, highly sensitive, and cost-effective modality for the preoperative localization of pancreatic PETs. This has resulted in an increased number of PETs first sampled as cytology specimens. This manuscript focuses on the cytomorphologic features most suggestive of pancreatic PETs, differential diagnosis, and diagnostic pitfalls of PETs. The technical development of EUS-guided FNA and the ancillary studies for pancreatic PETs are also reviewed. The data summarized in this review indicate that EUS-FNA is a valuable method in the recognition of pancreatic PETs and in most cases cytopathologists could reach a correct diagnosis of these tumors, including their hormone producing capability on aspirated cytologic material.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Papillary / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle / methods*
  • Carcinoma, Acinar Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Islet Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Islet Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Endoscopy, Digestive System / methods*
  • Gastrinoma / chemistry
  • Gastrinoma / pathology
  • Glucagonoma / chemistry
  • Glucagonoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulinoma / chemistry
  • Insulinoma / pathology*
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor