Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis & Detection
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Video: Diagnosing Pancreatic CancerDiagnosing Pancreatic Cancer
Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer
Listen to Dr. Leon Yoder discuss how cancer experts at CTCA often diagnose pancreatic cancer.
Every pancreatic cancer patient is different. The cancer experts at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) have extensive experience in properly staging and diagnosing the pancreatic cancer, and customizing treatment plans for each patient.
When you arrive at CTCA, our team of pancreatic cancer experts will use an array of tests to accurately diagnose the disease. This helps us formulate a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs.
Throughout your pancreatic cancer treatment, we’ll use advanced imaging and laboratory tests to monitor the disease and measure your response to treatment.
Diagnostic Tests, Tools & Procedures
Your CTCA doctors will first get a health history to determine your health now and in the past. We'll also perform a physical exam to check for jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), abdominal swelling, gallbladder enlargement, etc.
Our doctors will then use one or more of the following tests for pancreatic cancer to help them diagnose the disease and plan your treatment:
Blood, stool and urine tests
We may use laboratory tests to check for tumor-associated antigens, such as an elevated CA 19-9 (carbohydrate antigen 19-9) level. We may also check billirubin levels, as high levels can indicate blocked bile ducts.
A biopsy is an important part of making a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. During a biopsy, our doctors remove a small amount of tissue from the pancreas. An EUS-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy is a common procedure when pancreatic cancer is suspected.
An ultrasound uses sound wave technology to provide echoes of your internal organs, including the pancreas. The echoes that tumors produce are different from those of healthy tissues.
- Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) – Since the pancreas is hidden behind other organs, treatment requires accuracy and precision. Endoscopic ultrasound allows us to view high-quality images of the pancreas and deliver treatment directly to a pancreatic mass.
CT scan (computerized tomography)
A CT scan uses X-ray images to show your internal organs. In particular, CT scans present detailed images of soft tissue organs.
- GE Discovery™ PET/CT 600 Scanner – This state-of-the-art four-dimensional CT scanner produces detailed cross-sectional X-ray images of structures within the body. It also enables our radiologists to plan treatment in accordance with patients' breathing patterns.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
When diagnosing pancreatic cancer, our team may use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses radiofrequency waves to create detailed cross-sectional images of the pancreas.
An X-ray constructs images of inside the body to detect and stage pancreatic cancer.
Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC) – During this test for pancreatic cancer, our doctors inject dye into the liver to closely examine bile ducts that have possibly been altered by the disease.
Angiogram – With this test, our doctors inject dye into an artery to outline the blood vessels and then take images to reveal how, or if, blood flow in a particular area is blocked by a tumor.
ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)
In an ERCP, we pass a long, flexible, lighted tube (called an endoscope) into the first part of the small intestine. We then use a small amount of contrast dye to highlight the bile ducts in the pancreas. We can also remove samples of cells or fluid to be viewed under a microscope.
- SpyGlass™ – The SpyGlass endoscope has a fiber-optic probe attached to a camera, which allows us to identify obstructions in the bile duct.
During a laparoscopy, our doctors make a small incision in the abdomen to closely explore the normality of the area. This can be a useful tool for staging pancreatic cancer, and to determine if there is metastasis to the liver.
Next Topic: Pancreatic Cancer Staging