Introduction: Delay in diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is associated with decreased survival. The effect of an initial misdiagnosis on delay in diagnosis and stage of PDAC is unknown.
Methods: This study is a retrospective review (2000-2010) from a University-based cancer center of new diagnoses of proximal PDAC.
Results: Of 313 patients, 98 (31.3 %) had an initial misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosed patients were younger, 62.8 ± 12.6 vs. 68.0 ± 10.1 (p < 0.001). The most common initial misdiagnoses were: gallbladder disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and peptic ulcer disease. After excluding patients with prior cholecystectomy, 14.2 % were misdiagnosed with gallbladder disease and underwent cholecystectomy before PDAC diagnosis. Misdiagnosed patients had higher rates of abdominal pain (p < 0.001), weight loss (p = 0.04), and acute pancreatitis (p < 0.001) and lower rate of jaundice (p < 0.001). Median time between symptoms to PDAC diagnosis was longer in misdiagnosed: 4.2 months vs. 1.4 (p < 0.001). Median time from contact with medical provider to axial imaging was longer in misdiagnosed (p < 0.001). Rate of stages III-IV disease at diagnosis was higher in misdiagnosed: 61.2 vs. 43.7 % (p = 0.004), with a 1.4 (95 % confidence interval (CI), 1.12-1.74) higher risk of stages III-IV disease at diagnosis; however, there was no difference in median overall survival in misdiagnosed patients (9.6 months in misdiagnosed vs. 10.3 months in correctly diagnosed, p = 0.69).
Conclusions: Initial misdiagnosis of patients with proximal PDAC is associated with delay in diagnosis and higher risk of locally advanced or advanced disease at time of PDAC diagnosis.
Keywords: Delay diagnosis; Misdiagnosis; Pancreatic cancer; Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; Stage.