Cytology of pancreatic acinar cell carcinoma

Edward B. Stelow, Ricardo H. Bardales, Vanessa M. Shami, Carolyn Woon, Allison Presley, James S Mallery, Rebecca Lai, Michael W. Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Acinar cell carcinoma (ACC) of the pancreas is extremely uncommon and its cytologic features have rarely been described. We describe the cytologic features of cases we have seen, review the literature regarding its cytologic features and discuss the pitfalls that may be encountered and the use of immunohistochemistry for its diagnosis. We searched our databases for all cases of histologically confirmed pancreatic ACC which had undergone prior fine needle aspiration (FNA) of the primary pancreatic lesion. The clinical histories, radiographic and sonographic findings, cytologic features, original cytologic diagnoses, and final histologic diagnoses were reviewed. Four cases of pancreatic ACC were found that had undergone FNA prior to histologic confirmation of the diagnoses. They were from 2 men and 2 women aged 50-75 yr. All masses were in the head of the pancreas, 2 had apparent peripancreatic adenopathy and 1 had an apparent liver metastasis. On review, all 4 had had diagnostic material on cytology samples. Original cytologic diagnoses included "acinar cell carcinoma," "pancreatic endocrine tumor," "favor neuroendocrine tumor, low-grade" and "non-diagnostic specimen." The cytologic features included small to moderate-sized loose groups with numerous single cells, prominent acinar formation, little anisonucleosis and prominent nucleoli. The cytologic features showed significant overlap with those of pancreatic endocrine tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-372
Number of pages6
JournalDiagnostic Cytopathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Acinar cell carcinoma
  • Cytology
  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Fine-needle aspiration
  • Pancreas


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