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Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer

Currently this is no effective single test for detecting pancreatic cancer. However if you display several of the symptoms, a doctor may recommend a group of tests to see if you have pancreatic cancer or not.

  • CT (Computed Tomography) Scan – This scan passes X-rays through your body and takes small slices of your body which are put together by a computer so the doctor can see a 3D image of the affected area. Sometimes a dye is given so that different tissues can be differentiated from each other more easily.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – A dye is given and you are passed through a tube which passes magnetic waves through your body and performs in very much the same way as a CT scan.
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – A small tube is passed down the throat until it reaches the opening of the pancreas into the small intestine. Using a camera, the physician can see the tubes of the pancreas where most of the cancers of the pancreas are formed. Then a dye may be given through a small catheter within the tube so that an X-ray can be taken later.
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound – The ultrasound device is passed through the endoscope to your stomach. The device then directs sound waves to your pancreas. A computer then turns the echoes from the sound into pictures that you can see.
  • Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography – A small needle with dye is injected into the liver. The dye then should move freely through the bile ducts. If it does not, this is indicative of a blockage from a tumor.
  • Biopsy – A sample of tissue is taken out either through a needle or with the scope used for other diagnostic tests. Then this cellular material is sent to the lab where it can be analyzed.

For more information:

Go to the Pancreatic Cancer health topic.