DNA testing of pancreatic cyst fluid: is it ready for prime time?

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DNA testing of pancreatic cyst fluid: is it ready for prime time?

Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 01;2(1):63-72

Authors: Singhi AD, Nikiforova MN, McGrath K

Pancreatic cysts are a clinical quandary in both diagnosis and management. Although many cysts, such as pseudocysts and serous cystadenomas, are benign and can be monitored clinically, mucinous cysts, such as intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms and mucinous cystic neoplasms, have the potential to progress to pancreatic cancer. Considering the poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer, the detection of a pancreatic cyst can be a source of anxiety for both the patient and physician. This diagnosis in turn can lead to expensive, invasive, and even harmful surveillance and treatment options. As a consequence, several national and international guidelines for the management of pancreatic cysts have been developed over the past decade. However, these guidelines rely on standard clinical assessment, radiographical imaging, and ancillary fluid studies that have insufficient sensitivity and specificity. The application of DNA-based molecular techniques has emerged as an adjunct to the assessment of pancreatic cysts. The cellular content of pancreatic cyst fluid aspirate is often suboptimal for analysis, but DNA isolated from lysed or exfoliated cells within the cyst can be analysed for genetic abnormalities. Moreover, whole exome sequencing and targeted sequencing of the major pancreatic cysts has identified unique mutational profiles for cyst type and genetic alterations that coincide with the development of pancreatic cancer. In this Review, we discuss the major cystic lesions of the pancreas and their underlying molecular pathology, current management guidelines for pancreatic cysts, and integration of DNA-based molecular testing within this field.

PMID: 28404017 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]