Commercial molecular panels are of limited utility in the classification of pancreatic cystic lesions

Nicole C. Panarelli, Raanan Sela, Andrew M. Schreiner, John P. Crapanzano, David S. Klimstra, Felice Schnoll-Sussman, Mark B. Pochapin, Rhonda K. Yantiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The PathfinderTG biomarker panel is useful in the evaluation of pancreatic cysts that have clinical features suspicious for malignancy, but its utility in classifying fine-needle aspiration biopsies from small pancreatic cystic lesions is yet to be proven. We used morphology to classify 20 pancreatic cyst cytology aspirates, all of which met radiographic criteria for close observation. Cases were cytologically classified as consistent with pseudocyst, serous cystadenoma, or mucinous neoplasm with low-grade, intermediate-grade, or high-grade dysplasia and analyzed for carcinoembryonic antigen. Redpath Integrated Pathology Inc. rendered diagnoses of nonmucinous (reactive/indolent or serous) or mucinous (low-risk or at risk) cyst on the basis of results of the PathfinderTG panel (KRAS mutations, DNA content, and loss of heterozygosity at microsatellites linked to tumor suppressor genes). Cytologic and commercial laboratory diagnoses were concordant in only 7 (35%) cases. Seven cysts classified as mucinous with low-grade dysplasia by cytology were interpreted as nonmucinous on the basis of the PathfinderTG panel, 2 of which were resected mucinous cysts. Two pancreatitis-related pseudocysts were misdiagnosed as low-risk mucinous cysts; 1 mucinous cyst with low-grade dysplasia was considered at risk for neoplastic progression using the PathfinderTG panel. Only 1 cyst misclassified as pseudocyst by cytology, but low-risk mucinous cyst by molecular analysis, proved to be a mucinous cystic neoplasm with low-grade dysplasia after surgical resection. We conclude that the PathfinderTG panel may aid the classification of pancreatic lesions, but is often inaccurate and should not replace cytologic evaluation of these lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1434-1443
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • PathfinderTG
  • Redpath Integrated Pathology
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • fine-needle aspiration biopsy
  • mucinous
  • pancreas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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