Massive gastrointestinal bleeding as the initial manifestation of pancreatic carcinoma


Pancreatic carcinoma is a rare cause of GI bleeding. We have studied eight patients in whom major digestive hemorrhage was the first sign of a subsequently proven pancreatic malignancy. Bleeding was characteristically severe and unremitting, including hematochezia (four), melena (three), and hematemesis (one). In seven cases, direct tumor invasion into a contiguous portion of the GI tract was present. Tumor erosion occurred into the third portion of the duodenum (three) descending duodenum (two), stomach (one), and transverse colon (one). In one patient, a metastatic bleeding lesion was present in the sigmoid colon. The four patients who required urgent laparotomy for control of major hemorrhage died during the initial hospitalization. Conventional diagnostic evaluation by endoscopic and roentgenographic techniques was commonly unsuccessful. Our retrospective analysis suggested that a more aggressive approach, including early angiography in unrelenting and undiagnosed bleeding, might have aided diagnosis and averted laparotomy in a population with dismal prospects for a surgical solution. Clinicians should be aware that pancreatic malignancy may present with a varying spectrum of GI bleeding ranging from occult to potentially exsanguinating hematemesis, hematochezia, or melena.

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Correspondence to Patty Lee or Donald Sutherland or Edward R. Feller.

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Lee, P., Sutherland, D. & Feller, E.R. Massive gastrointestinal bleeding as the initial manifestation of pancreatic carcinoma. Int J Pancreatol. 15, 223–227 (1994).

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Key Words

  • GI bleeding
  • pancreatic carcinoma