Non-cancerous tumours of the pancreas

A non-cancerous (benign) tumour of the pancreas is a growth that does not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Non-cancerous tumours are not usually life-threatening. They are typically removed with surgery and do not usually come back (recur).

There are a few types of non-cancerous tumours of the pancreas.

Pancreatic pseudocyst

A pancreatic pseudocyst is a sac of clear, or yellowish, watery fluid. This fluid has high amounts of pancreatic enzymes, including amylase, lipase and trypsin.

Pancreatic pseudocysts are more common in men than in women. Sometimes one pseudocyst develops. Sometimes many, or multiple, pseudocysts develop. About two-thirds of all pancreatic pseudocysts develop in the tail of the pancreas.

Pseudocysts are usually caused by injury to the pancreas or pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is inflammation or infection of the pancreas. It can be acute, which means it comes on suddenly and lasts a short time. It can also be chronic, which means it lasts a long time, but with milder symptoms compared to those caused by acute pancreatitis.

Pancreatic pseudocysts may go away on their own. If they cause pain or an infection develops, doctors will remove them.

Serous cystic neoplasm (SCN)

A serous cystic neoplasm (SCN) is a non-cancerous tumour that develops from glandular tissue. It is also called serous cystadenoma. Glandular tissue often makes and releases fluids. SCNs form when the fluids build up and form cysts.

SCNs are more common in women than in men. Most SCNs occur in the head and body of the pancreas.

SCNs rarely cause symptoms. If they do cause symptoms, such as pain, they are treated. They are usually removed with surgery.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Pancreatic Cancer. 2016.
  • Khan, A.N., Sheen, A.J., MacDonald, S., et al . Pancreas, mucinous cystic neoplasm. Omaha: eMedicine, Inc; 2007.
  • Lambiase, L. . Pancreatic pseudocysts. Omaha: eMedicine, Inc; 2006.
  • Lumkin, B. . Pancreas, serous cystadenoma. Omaha: eMedicine, Inc; 2007.
  • Sawyer, M. & Varma, M. . Pseudocyst, pancreatic. Omaha: eMedicine, Inc; 2007.

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