The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Pancreatic cysts

01 pancreatic cysts

Pancreatic Cysts

Pancreatic cysts are fluid filled sacs that can develop within/around the pancreas gland. Most small pancreatic cysts do not require any form of treatment and just require monitoring with occasional scans and blood tests. Rarely some pancreatic cysts can become cancerous.  The pancreatic cysts can be described as:

 IPMN (intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm)

These cysts are often filled with mucous. This might not cause any symptoms but can lead to pancreatitis or blockage of the pancreatic ducts. IPMN type cysts may involve either the main pancreatic duct (main duct IPMN) or a branch of the pancreatic duct (side branch-type IPMN). Main duct IPMN's have a greater chance of transforming into cancer than a side branch type IPMN cyst.


 Mucinous cystic neoplasm (MCNs)

Are more prevalent in women.  They have potential to become cancerous and so surgery may be recommended. MCN cyst does not usually involve the pancreatic ducts and commonly found in the tail of the pancreas.


 Rare benign (non-cancerous) tumours

serous cystadenomas, acinar cell cancers, and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (such as insulinomas). These are very uncommon. Your consultant can provide more information if needed during your clinic appointment.



is a term used to describe a fluid collection around the pancreas.  This can be a late complication of pancreatitis.


A combination of clinical history and imaging e.g. MRI / CT is used to diagnose pancreatic cysts. These pancreatic cysts may not be treated and you may be placed in a surveillance program to watch the activity of these cysts. This will require regular scans to monitor them.