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Pancreatic Masses/Cysts

Pancreatic Masses/Cysts services offered in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary, Clayton, Wilson, Henderson, Smithfield and Fuquay-Varina, NC

Pancreatic Masses/Cysts

About Pancreatic Masses/Cysts

Your pancreas is a large organ in the upper abdomen behind your stomach. It helps with food digestion and produces hormones like insulin. If you develop pancreatic mass or cyst symptoms, contact the Wake Endoscopy office in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary, Clayton, or Wilson, North Carolina. The practice’s highly skilled gastroenterology team uses advanced technology to diagnose pancreatic masses/cysts and determine if they’re cancerous. Call the nearest Wake Endoscopy office or book an appointment online today.

Pancreatic Masses/Cysts Q&A

What are pancreatic masses?

Pancreatic masses are abnormal growths in or on the pancreas that can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant or have the potential to develop malignancy. 

Pancreatic cancers can present as masses or cysts but need evaluation by trained gastroenterologists. 

Pancreatic cancers may be exocrine (like adenocarcinoma), meaning they develop in the exocrine (glandular) and pancreatic duct tissues. Others are neuroendocrine, relating to the nerve and hormone-producing cells. These are rare.

What are pancreatic cysts?

Pancreatic cysts are fluid pockets on or in your pancreas, and most of these do not cause symptoms. These cysts are often noted when patients undergo testing for unrelated symptoms. It is important that pancreatic cysts be evaluated by a gastroenterologist because they can be cysts that lead to complications, including pancreatic cancer. Different types of cysts can include pseudocysts, mucinous cystic neoplasms, and serous cystadenomas.

How are pancreatic masses/cysts diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a physical exam, symptom review, and discussion about your medical and family history. Your provider may feel for swollen lymph nodes and test your blood for clues. 

Imaging tests like ultrasound, CT scanning, and MRIs create pictures of your pancreas that show any abnormalities. If they discover anything, the Wake Endoscopy team might perform an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and/or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

EUS is performing ultrasound from inside the stomach or other parts of the digestive system. This allows a very detailed evaluation of the surrounding organs and allows for interventions such as “biopsy” or drainage.

ERCP uses an endoscope to study your gallbladder, pancreas, and liver ducts. It also uses X-ray imaging with a contrast dye that your provider injects into your bile duct or pancreatic duct. The dye helps highlight abnormalities like masses and cysts and allows our physicians to place stents and remove stones. Abnormal tissue and cells can be biopsied and collected during both EUS and ERCP to help make a diagnosis. 

What treatment might I need for pancreatic masses/cysts?

Depending on the mass/cyst’s location and type, and whether you have any symptoms, the Wake Endoscopy team will provide a treatment plan that may vary from surveillance to more complicated interventions. The treatment will be tailored for each patient. If a pancreatic cyst causes troublesome symptoms or is too large, the team may drain it. They use endoscopic ultrasound (an endoscope fitted with an ultrasound probe) to drain the cyst. Cancerous masses and problematic pancreatic cysts might require surgical removal.

Call Wake Endoscopy to arrange a pancreatic mass/cyst evaluation, or schedule a consultation online today.