Cytologic Analysis of Pancreatic Juice Increases Specificity of Detection of Malignant IPMN-A Systematic Review

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Oct;17(11):2199-2211.e21. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.12.034. Epub 2019 Jan 7.


Background & aims: Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) of the pancreas can progress to cancer. Biomarkers have been identified that were reported to increase the accuracy of identification of malignant lesions; we performed a systematic review of the accuracy of these markers.

Methods: We performed a systematic review of published studies on biomarkers of malignant IPMNs by searching MEDLINE and Web of Science databases from January 2005 through December 2017. Our methods were developed based on the Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines. Pooled sensitivity, specificity, receiver operating characteristic curves, and their respective areas under the curve (AUC) were calculated from groups of markers (cell-, protein-, or DNA-based) measured in samples collected before and after surgery. A hypothetical test model was developed to determine how to meaningfully amend the revised Fukuoka guidelines, focusing on increasing test specificity for patients with IPMNs that have worrisome features.

Results: We collected data from 193 published studies, comprising 12,297 patients, that analyzed 7 preoperative and 21 postoperative markers of IPMNs. The 3 biomarkers that identified malignant IPMNs with the largest AUC values were pancreatic juice cytology (AUC, 0.84; sensitivity, 0.54; specificity, 0.91), serum protein carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (AUC, 0.81; sensitivity, 0.45; specificity, 0.90), and cyst fluid cytology (AUC, 0.82; sensitivity, 0.57; specificity, 0.84). A combination of cytologic and immunohistochemical analysis of MUC1 and MUC2 in pancreatic juice samples identified malignant IPMNs with the largest AUC and sensitivity values (AUC, 0.85; sensitivity, 0.85; specificity, 0.65). In a test model, inclusion of cytologic analysis of pancreatic juice in the guideline algorithm significantly increased the specificity of detection of malignant IPMNs.

Conclusions: In a systematic review, we found cytologic analysis of pancreatic juice to have the greatest effect in increasing the specificity of detection of malignant IPMNs. We propose addition of this test to the Fukuoka guidelines for assessment of patients with IPMNs with worrisome features.

Keywords: Biomarker; Diagnostic; Neoplasm; Pancreatic Cyst.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Intraductal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Juice / cytology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Biomarkers, Tumor