Background: Tumor size is a criterion of staging in nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors as well as a predictor of outcome after curative resection. This study analyzes the correlation between tumor size and malignancy in patients with nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors. Methods: All patients with nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors who underwent curative resection (R0) at our institution between 1990 and 2008 were considered. Their clinicopathologic characteristics were compared among 3 different groups according to tumor size. Univariate and multivariable analyses were performed. Results: Over the study period, 177 patients were identified. Overall, 90 patients (51%) had a tumor size ≤2 cm (group 1), 46 (26%) had tumor size between >2 cm and ≤4 cm (group 2), and 41 (23%) had tumor size >4 cm (group 3). Tumors ≤2 cm were more frequently incidentally discovered (group 1, 57% vs group 2, 51% vs group 3, 32%; P = .014) and benign (group 1, 81% vs group 2, 65% vs group 3, 5%; P <.0001). The presence of a nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumor >2 cm and a nonincidental diagnosis of the tumor were independent predictors of malignancy at multivariable analysis. None of the 51 patients (29%) with a pancreatic endocrine tumor ≤2 cm that was incidentally diagnosed died of disease. Conclusion: A strict correlation between tumor size and malignancy in nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors was demonstrated. A nonoperative management could be advocated for tumors ≤2 cm when discovered incidentally.
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