Background and study aims: Side-branch intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (SB-IPMNs), and associated synchronous and metachronous pancreatic cancers are increasingly detected as imaging modalities become more sensitive. We investigated the natural history of SB-IPMN, and the incidence and characteristics of pancreatic cancers among patients undergoing long-term follow-up. Patients and methods: We reviewed the clinical, imaging, and pathological features in 103 patients, diagnosed at the Aichi Cancer Center between September 1988 and September 2006 as having SB-IPMN, and conservatively followed up for 2 years (median 59 months) based on an endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) database. Results: 74 (71.8%) patients had nonprogressive lesions. Overall, six patients (5.8%) developed pancreatic cancers during follow-up, with intraductal papillary mucinous (IPM) carcinoma in four, and ductal carcinoma of pancreas that was not IPMN in two patients. Of the six pancreatic cancers, five were diagnosed at a resectable stage. The 5-year and 10-year actuarial rates of development of pancreatic cancer were 2.4% and 20.0%, respectively. Although, at the last follow-up, cyst size, main pancreatic duct (MPD) diameter, mural nodule size, and frequency of metachronous and/or synchronous cancers of other organs were significantly higher in patients who developed IPM carcinoma, resected SB-IPMNs without mural nodules and dilated MPDs had no IPM carcinomas. Conclusions: The frequency of pancreatic cancers is high on long-term follow-up of SB-IPMN. Although conservative management is appropriate for selected patients, regular and long-term imaging, especially by EUS is essential, even if SB-IPMN remains unchanged for 2 years. Presence of mural nodule and dilated MPD seem to be more appropriate indicators for resection than cyst size alone for SB-IPMNs.
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