South African Journal of Surgery
On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
FROST, M. et al. Solid pseudopapillary epithelial neoplasm - a rare but curable pancreatic tumour in young women. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2011, vol.49, n.2, pp. 75-81. ISSN 2078-5151.
BACKGROUND: Solid pseudopapillary epithelial neoplasms (SPENs) of the pancreas are rare but curable tumours that have a low-grade malignant potential and occur almost exclusively in young women, with an excellent prognosis after complete resection. This study examines the clinicopathological characteristics of these tumours and evaluates the role of surgery in relation to their size and location. STUDY DESIGN: We reviewed the pre-, intra- and postoperative data on 21 patients with SPENs who underwent resection during a 30-year period. Data including demographic information, presenting symptoms and signs, extent of operation, histology, tumour markers and postoperative complications were evaluated to establish the optimal surgical management. RESULTS: All 21 tumours occurred in women (mean age 24.6 years, range 13 - 51 years). Sixteen patients presented with nonspecific abdominal complaints and a palpable abdominal mass, in 1 patient the tumour was found during emergency laparotomy for a complicated ovarian cyst, 1 patient presented with severe abdominal pain and shock due to a ruptured tumour, and in 3 patients the tumour was detected incidentally during imaging. The correct pre-operative diagnosis of SPEN was made in 10 patients. Incorrect preoperative diagnoses included hydatid cyst (3 patients), mesenteric cyst (2), pancreatic cystadenoma (2), ovarian cysts (1), islet cell tumour of the pancreas (1), and cavernous haemangioma of the liver (1). The mean diameter of the tumours was 12.5 cm (range 8 - 20 cm), and they occurred in the head (8), neck (5), body (2), and tail (6) of the pancreas. All SPENs were resected. Five patients had a pylorus-preserving pancreaticoduodenectomy, 4 a central pancreatectomy with distal pancreaticogastrostomy, 8 a distal pancreatectomy, 3 a local resection and one a total pancreatectomy and portal vein graft. In 1 patient, 2 liver metastases were resected in addition to the pancreatic primary tumour. The patient who presented in shock with tumour rupture and bleeding into the lesser sac later died of multiple organ failure after successful resection. Postoperative complications included a stricture at the hepaticojejunostomy after pancreaticoduodenectomy, which resolved after stenting, and a pancreatic duct fistula after local tumour resection, which required a distal pancreatectomy. Other complications were bleeding (2 patients) requiring re-operation and intra-abdominal fluid collections requiring percutaneous drainage (3) or operation (1). Mean postoperative hospital stay was 16 days (range 6 - 40 days). Twenty patients are alive and well without recurrence, including the patient with metastases, with a mean follow-up of 6.6 years (range 6 months - 15 years). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that SPENs of the pancreas are uncommon, but should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a cystic mass of the pancreas in a young woman. Despite the indolent biological behaviour of SPENs, most patients required major pancreatic resection. Surgery is curative regardless of the size or location of the tumour. Metastases are rare, as is recurrence after complete surgical resection.