Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
The symptoms of pancreatic cysts depend on their size and location. Small (less than two cm) cysts usually cause no symptoms. Large pancreatic cysts can cause
abdominal pain and back pain presumably by exerting pressure on the surrounding tissues and nerves.
Small or large cysts in the head of the pancreas also may cause
jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes with darkening of urine color) due to obstruction of the common bile duct. (Obstruction causes bile to back up and forces bilirubin--the chemical that produces jaundice--back into the bloodstream.)
On rare occasions, large pseudocysts can compress the stomach or the duodenum leading to obstruction in the movement of food in the intestines, resulting in abdominal pain and
If a cyst becomes malignant and begins to invade the surrounding tissues, it may lead to the same type of pain as
pancreatic cancer, pain that usually is constant and felt in the back and upper abdomen.
What are the causes of
There are two major types of pancreatic cysts; pseudocysts (inflammatory cysts) and true cysts (non-inflammatory cysts). Inflammatory cysts are benign, whereas non-inflammatory cysts can be benign, precancerous, or cancerous.