Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the characteristic radiological features of early-stage pancreatic cancer (PC).
Methods: Between 2009 and 2016, 510 PC patients were selected from our hospital cancer registry database based on International Classification of Diseases for Oncology-3 (C25). Among them, 64 patients (42 males and 22 females; median age, 74 [range, 59-91]) had received repeated abdominal radiological examinations before their diagnosis of PC and were retrospectively investigated for specific radiological findings. The subjects underwent the following imaging examinations: computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and fluoroglucose-positron emission tomography.
Results: Characteristic radiological features before diagnosis of PC were classified into the following 9 features: pancreatic duct ectasia (n = 16), focal low-density area (n = 15), change of cyst size (n = 8), localized tissue atrophy (n = 7), distal atrophy (n = 4), mass in pancreatic lipomatosis tissue (n = 2), mass concomitant with the already known cyst (n = 2), protrusion (n = 1), and parenchymal disproportion (n = 1). Fifty-three cases (84%) had more than one characteristic radiological feature before diagnosis of PC, and their median observation period until diagnosis was 24 (range, 1-120) months.
Conclusions: The 9 characteristic radiological features provide an opportunity to diagnose PC at an early stage.