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Pancreatic Cancer


Some of the techniques for the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer are:

  • Physical examination and medical history: The patient undergoes a comprehensive examination to determine any sign of pancreatic cancer. There may be swelling in the gallbladder and liver due to pancreatic cancer, which is checked during the examination. The patient may also undergo a checkup to detect the presence of jaundice. The patient is also inquired about medical and family history to determine any risk factors for pancreatic cancer.
  • CT scan: As CT scan provides clear images of the pancreas, this technique is used to diagnose pancreatic cancer. CT scans may also provide information regarding cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant organs.
  • MRI: The oncologists may perform specialized magnetic resonance imaging on people who are believed to have pancreatic cancer or are at increased risk of developing this condition. The techniques used include MRI angiography and MRI cholangiopancreatography. Angiography provides information regarding the health of blood vessels.
  • Abdominal and endoscopic ultrasound: Ultrasound uses sound waves to develop images of the pancreas. The cancer specialists may initially perform an abdominal ultrasound, as it may be done from outside the body. In some cases, the patient may also undergo an endoscopic ultrasound. CT scan is generally preferred over abdominal ultrasound for diagnosing pancreatic cancer.
  • Cholangiopancreatography: Cholangiopancreatography provides information about the blockage or narrowing of the pancreatic or bile ducts. This test is also used for planning the surgery. Cholangiopancreatography can be done through various techniques, such as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, and percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography.
  • PET scan: PET scan is used to detect cancer severity and determine the site of cancer spread. A combination of CT and PET scans also provides clearer images and comprehensive information about the pancreatic tumor.
  • Blood tests: Several blood tests may provide more information about the overall health of the patients and in diagnosing pancreatic cancer. Some of the blood tests include liver function tests, detection of tumor markers, such as CA 19-9 and carcinoembryonic antigen, complete blood count, and chemistry panel.
  • Biopsy: Although some of the above-listed tests may only suggest the presence of pancreatic cancer, the only way to confirm the diagnosis is by laboratory evaluation of the abnormal tissue sample. A biopsy is a procedure of obtaining the tissue sample and sending it for analysis. The biopsy may be an endoscopic, percutaneous biopsy, or surgical biopsy.

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