CT and MR features that can help to differentiate between focal chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer


Diagnosis of a focal pancreatic mass in routine clinical practice can be a challenge because patients with chronic pancreatitis may present with symptoms and imaging findings that can be difficult to distinguish from pancreatic cancer. Markers, such as cancer antigen 19-9 and carcinoembryonic antigen, are helpful if abnormal, but normal values do not rule out pancreatic cancer. One of the strongest complicating factors is that chronic pancreatitis is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Transition of chronic pancreatitis to pancreatic cancer is relatively rare, but it normally has a poor prognosis because diagnosis is often delayed. From a radiologic diagnosis perspective, the classic so-called double-duct sign is helpful. This sign is considered a hallmark sign of pancreatic cancer on magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, but it can also be identified in patients with chronic pancreatitis or with other conditions. A number of additional imaging findings or signs are, therefore, necessary. The aim of this article was to describe the strong CT and MR imaging features or integrated imaging features that can help to differentiate between pancreatic cancer and focal chronic pancreatitis.

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Correspondence to Sitthipong Srisajjakul.

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Srisajjakul, S., Prapaisilp, P. & Bangchokdee, S. CT and MR features that can help to differentiate between focal chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Radiol med (2020).

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  • Imaging features
  • Differentiation
  • Focal chronic pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic cancer