OBJECTIVES: We lack reliable methods for identifying patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP) at increased risk for pancreatic cancer. We aimed to identify radiographic parameters associated with pancreatic cancer in this population. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients with suspected CP within an integrated healthcare system in Southern California in 2006-2015. Patients were identified by a diagnostic code and confirmed by imaging findings (parenchymal calcification, ductal stones, glandular atrophy, pseudocyst, main duct dilatation, duct irregularity, abnormal side branch, or stricture) defined by the natural language processing of radiographic reports. We used Cox regression to determine the relationship of smoking, alcohol use, acute pancreatitis, diabetes, body mass index, and imaging features with the risk of incident pancreatic cancer at least 1 year after abnormal pancreas imaging. RESULTS: We identified 1,766 patients with a diagnostic code and an imaging feature for CP with a median follow-up of 4.5 years. There were 46 incident pancreatic cancer cases. Factors that predicted incident pancreatic cancer after 1-year of follow-up included obesity (hazard ratio 2.7, 95% confidence interval: 1.2-6.1) and duct dilatation (hazard ratio 10.5, 95% confidence limit: 4.0-27). Five-year incidence of pancreatic cancer in this population with duct dilatation was 6.3%. DISCUSSION: High incidence of pancreatic cancer in suspected patients with CP with pancreatic duct dilatation warrants regular surveillance for pancreatic cancer.
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