How Is Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosed?

illustration of healthcare team

If you and your doctor discuss symptoms that may be related to pancreatic cancer, recommended tests may include:

  • CT or CAT scan (Computed tomography)
  • MRI scan (Magnetic resonance imaging)
  • AUS/EUS (Abdominal or endoscopic ultrasound)
  • ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)
  • SRS (Somatostatin receptor scintigraphy)
  • X-ray (Angiography)
  • Liver function tests
  • Blood tests for tumor markers
  • Other blood tests

Usually, a biopsy is ultimately required to confirm pancreatic cancer. Different types of biopsy procedures include:

  • Percutaneous biopsy (through the skin)
  • Endoscopic biopsy
  • Surgical biopsy

Very rarely will a doctor not perform a biopsy. This may happen if imaging tests of the pancreas show high probability of cancerous tumors. In this case, the doctor may proceed directly to surgical removal of the tumor, where the tumor cells can be observed and analyzed to confirm diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Read more in-depth information regarding tests and procedures doctors use to diagnose pancreatic cancer.

If the results are positive for pancreatic cancer, you will want to know
the stage of the cancer.