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.
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Last Reviewed: Feb 16, 2009
Associate Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati