Mucinous cystadenomas are the most frequent cystic tumors of the pancreas and comprise approximately 50 percent of all cystic tumors. While these tumors usually are benign, the majority, if left untreated, likely will evolve into a malignant tumor. Eighty percent of mucinous cystic tumors occur in women, and the majority of the tumors occur in younger women, with a median age of 54 years. The treatment of choice is surgical removal of the tumor. If left untreated, nearly all of these tumors may progress towards the development of invasive pancreatic cancer.
The surgical procedure depends on the location of the tumor. The vast majority of these tumors are precancerous. Because it is a precancerous tumor, it is preferable to avoid radical surgery. At Keck Medicine of USC, we therefore emphasize techniques of organ preservation for removal of these tumors. For very small tumors in the head of the pancreas, we would consider a pancreatic head resection, preserving the duodenum and the bile duct.
A Whipple operation is only indicated occasionally for tumors in the head of the pancreas, and a distal pancreatectomy is performed for tumors in the tail of the pancreas. We would preserve the spleen in patients that undergo distal pancreatectomy for these tumors. For tumors in the neck of the pancreas, we perform a central pancreatectomy to preserve pancreatic tissue. We offer laparoscopic surgical approaches for distal pancreatectomy and central pancreatectomy.