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How are pancreatic lesions treated?

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Quick Answer

Pancreatic lesions, also known as cysts, may not need treatment at all; they might be drained or need to be surgically removed depending on the severity, explains Mayo Clinic. All lesions in the pancreas should be monitored, however, even those that are small.

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Full Answer

Lesions in the pancreas that are smaller than 10 millimeters can be monitored by CT scan, states Mayo Clinic, but those larger than 10 millimeters need to be monitored by endoscopic ultrasound. If the lesion begins causing problems for the patient, the doctor drains it. This is done by endoscope, and the tool is passed through the mouth, into the stomach, then to the small intestine. A needle and camera are attached to the end of the tube to drain the cyst.

If drainage doesn't work for the lesion, a doctor may elect to surgically remove it, according to Mayo Clinic. Surgery is done for large lesions or those that are causing pain. Some lesions may be removed because they put the person at risk for developing cancer. For those who have chronic pancreatitis, even if removed, a lesion in the pancreas may reappear over time. The best way for individuals to prevent lesions in the pancreas is to avoid heavy alcohol use and keep gallstones under control.

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