Background: Autoimmune pancreatitis is a rare chronic inflammatory pancreatic disease that is increasingly being diagnosed worldwide. As a result of overlap in clinical and radiological features, it is often misdiagnosed as pancreatic cancer. We report the case of a patient with autoimmune pancreatitis that was initially misdiagnosed as pancreatic cancer. Case presentation. A 31-year-old Caucasian man presented to our hospital with epigastric pain, jaundice and weight loss. His CA 19-9 level was elevated, and computed tomography and endoscopic ultrasound revealed a pancreatic head mass abutting the portal vein. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreaticography showed narrowing of the biliary duct and poor visualization of the pancreatic duct. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy revealed atypical ductal epithelial cells, which raised clinical suspicion of adenocarcinoma. Because of the patient's unusual age for the onset of pancreatic cancer and the acuity of his symptoms, he was referred to a tertiary care center for further evaluation. His immunoglobulin G4 antibody level was 365 mg/dL, and repeat computed tomography showed features typical of autoimmune pancreatitis. The patient's symptoms resolved with corticosteroid therapy. Conclusion: Autoimmune pancreatitis is a rare disease with an excellent response to corticosteroid therapy. Its unique histological appearance and response to corticosteroid therapy can reduce unnecessary surgical procedures. A thorough evaluation by a multidisciplinary team is important in rendering the diagnosis of autoimmune pancreatitis.
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