Memorial Sloan Kettering experts have found that surgery isn’t necessary for most people with pancreatic cysts, as long as the cysts are relatively small and aren’t causing symptoms. Instead, careful surveillance testing can be safe and effective.
Each person’s situation is unique. But in general, MSK experts recommend surveillance when the risk of the operation to remove the cyst is greater than the chance that that the cyst contains cancer or will soon become cancerous.
We may also recommend ongoing surveillance for people who’ve had surgery to remove a type of cyst that can return over time called an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm, or for people who had surgery in which not all of the pancreas was removed.
How Pancreatic Cyst Surveillance Works
Pancreatic cyst surveillance is treated much like an annual colonoscopy screening. Your team will regularly test the cyst to look for changes that could signal cancer. The goal is to find these early, when the cysts are easier to effectively remove.
During your first one or two visits, you’ll meet with a pancreatic surgeon or a gastroenterologist. After that, you’ll meet regularly with our specialized nurse practitioner, who works closely with the pancreatic care team as a whole.
Participants visit us every six months to a year for monitoring and screening with regular CT and MRI imaging tests.
Your Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioner Jennifer Flood-Caldwell collaborates with surgeons and gastroenterologists to care for people with diseases of the pancreas.