Virchows Archiv

, Volume 445, Issue 2, pp 168–178 | Cite as

Cystic neoplasms of the pancreas and tumor-like lesions with cystic features: a review of 418 cases and a classification proposal

  • M. KosmahlEmail author
  • U. Pauser
  • K. Peters
  • B. Sipos
  • J. Lüttges
  • B. Kremer
  • G. Klöppel
Original Article


Although cystic neoplasms and lesions of the pancreas are rare, they have attracted a great deal of attention because of their potential curability. Since, in recent years, several new entities have been identified, the relative frequency of the tumors and their classification need to be reevaluated. In a series of 1454 tumorous lesions of the pancreas collected between 1971 and 2003 in our surgical pathology files and consultation files, all cystic pancreatic neoplasms and tumor-like lesions were identified and typed both histologically and immunohistochemically. There were 418 cases (29%) showing cysts with a diameter ranging between 0.5 cm and 27 cm. Most common were solid pseudopapillary neoplasms (21%) and intraductal papillary-mucinous neoplasms (18%). When only the cystic neoplasms and lesions that had been resected in a single institution were considered, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms were the most frequent cystic neoplasms, while solid pseudopapillary neoplasms took fifth place behind ductal adenocarcinomas with cystic features, serous cystic neoplasms and mucinous cystic neoplasms. The most frequent cystic tumor-like lesions were pancreatitis-associated pseudocysts. New and rare entities that have recently been identified are mucinous nonneoplastic cysts, acinar cell cystadenomas and cystic hamartomas. Bearing in mind that figures from referral centers such as ours may be biased regarding the relative frequency of lesions, we concluded from our data that intraductal papillary-mucinous neoplasms are the most frequently occurring pancreatic cystic neoplasms, rather than solid pseudopapillary neoplasms. It was possible to classify all cystic lesions encountered in our files or described in the literature in a new system that distinguishes between neoplastic and nonneoplastic lesions, with further subdivisions into epithelial (adenomas, borderline neoplasms and carcinomas) and nonepithelial tumors. This classification is easy to handle and enables a distinction on the basis of clinical behavior and prognosis.


Pancreatic tumors Cystic neoplasms Frequency Classification Differential diagnosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Kosmahl
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • U. Pauser
    • 1
  • K. Peters
    • 1
  • B. Sipos
    • 1
  • J. Lüttges
    • 1
  • B. Kremer
    • 2
  • G. Klöppel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity of KielGermany
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryUniversity of KielGermany
  3. 3.Department of PathologyUniversity of KielKielGermany

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