When people learn they have a lesion in their pancreas that could become pancreatic cancer, they often request frequent CT scans and biopsies, or surgery. Often the lesion is nothing to worry about. A team of international physicians has developed a profile of the patient most at risk of developing lesions that are most likely to develop into cancer.
When people find out -- usually from a diagnostic scan looking at something else -- that they have a lesion in their pancreas that could morph into pancreatic cancer, they can panic. They insist on having frequent CT scans and biopsies to monitor the lesion, or they ask for surgery. Physicians also don't know if these abnormalities are dangerous, so the patients end up in surgery having part of their pancreas removed. Often the lesion is nothing to worry about.
But a team of international physicians, led by researchers at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida, has developed a profile of the patient who would be most at risk of developing lesions that are most likely to develop into cancer. Their analysis is published online today in the journal Digestive and Liver Diseases.
"The factors we found that increase risk of pancreatic cancer now allow us to separate patients as either low or high risk," says the study's senior author, Michael B. Wallace, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic. "High-risk patients can then be scanned and biopsied more frequently or can opt for surgery, but low-risk patients don't need such surveillance. They can be watched much less intensively."
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