Our pancreas is a long, tapered organ that performs essential digestive and hormonal functions. In terms of the former, our pancreas functions as an exocrine gland and secretes enzymes that help our duodenum (the first area of our small intestine) break down carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and acids. In terms of the latter, our pancreas contains an endocrine gland that secretes insulin and glucagon into our bloodstream. These hormones work together to monitor how much glucose is circulating in our blood.
Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm (IPMN) is a condition that may develop in your pancreas; it is important to identify and treat because the cells involved in IPMN are premalignant–in other words, there is a chance they could spiral into cancer. Furthermore, pancreatic cancer is a notoriously vicious form of cancer. IPMN cells make mucus and block your pancreatic duct, which is the area responsible for supplying your duodenum with pancreatic enzymes that aid in digestion.
IPMN cells appear like long strands; while these cells themselves are benign, scientific evidence has proven that they frequently become invasive and malignant. Luckily, though, IPMN itself has a fairly low mortality rate.
The condition is often asymptomatic; because of this, it’s frequently found during imaging studies carried out for other reasons. When IPMN does produce symptoms, they are often akin to disorders involving the bile duct because the majority of them prevent the bile ducts from releasing digestive enzymes or bile into the duodenum.
Should IPMN symptoms appear, you will likely experience:
MRIs are among the possible diagnostic routes for IPMN. Your gastroenterologist may suspect you have an IPMN based on your symptoms, appearance, and/or medical history. If they suspect this, they may suggest performing an MRI, abdominal CT scan, abdominal ultrasound, blood tests, or other tests to assess your situation.
The Ezra torso and full-body scans screen your pancreas for cancerous and precancerous states, including IPMN. If you’re interested in learning more, you may do so here.