Best Way To Detect Pancreatic Cancer


Possible Risks Of Having A Blood Test

A promising test for pancreatic cancer … from a teenager | Jack Andraka

Blood sampling is a safe test. There is a possibility of:

  • bleeding and bruising – pressing hard when the needle is removed can help to stop it
  • pain – this is normally mild and can last for a few minutes
  • swelling – ask your nurse, doctor or phlebotomist to avoid an arm that is swollen or has a risk of swelling
  • feeling faint or fainting – tell the person doing your blood test if you’re feeling lightheaded or dizzy at any time
  • infection – this is very rare

Diagnosis Of Pc In Early Stages

The initial evaluation of a patient with suspicion of PC includes serological evaluation and abdominal imaging. Subsequently, depending on the patients risk factors, clinical presentation, and initial test results, additional laboratory investigations are performed. Among imaging methods used in the diagnosis and staging of PC are ultrasound, endoscopic ultrasound , endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography , CT, MRI, and PET. These techniques allow for the detection of the pancreatic tumor and the assessment of local or remote dissemination of this malignant disease. They can also help estimate the possibility of surgical resection of the tumor. Another use of these techniques is to monitor the post-operative or post-chemotherapy evolution of the patients and as screening methods for PC in high-risk families .

Currently, the most efficient method for certain and early diagnosis of PC is an endoscopic ultrasound . This is used to detect and delineate the extent of pancreatic lesions. It also permits us to obtain a biological sample by an FNA biopsy and microscopic examination. Some of the advantages of using EUS in the diagnosis of PC are:

With the development of new EUS techniques like contrast-upgraded EUS and EUS elastography, the combined use of two or more imaging techniques can contribute to establishing a certain diagnosis .

Pancreatic Cancer Is Not Easy To Detect

Pancreatic cancer is aggressive and tends to spread silently. Because the pancreas is located deep inside the body and sits across the back of the abdomen behind the stomach, it cant readily be felt or seen by health care providers during a checkup.

Additionally, there are usually no symptoms until the disease is at an advanced stage. And theres no early detection method, such as regular screening, as with other cancers such as breast, colon or prostate.

Quite often, symptoms such as abdominal pain or jaundice, a yellowing of the skin, occur only once the disease is in its advanced stages. As the cancer spreads, it frequently goes to the liver causing jaundice.

Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Diabetes in rare instances, pancreatic cancer can lead to changes in blood sugar levels

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Some People Might Not Need A Biopsy

Rarely, the doctor might not do a biopsy on someone who has a tumor in the pancreas if imaging tests show the tumor is very likely to be cancer and if it looks like surgery can remove all of it. Instead, the doctor will proceed with surgery, at which time the tumor cells can be looked at in the lab to confirm the diagnosis. During surgery, if the doctor finds that the cancer has spread too far to be removed completely, only a sample of the cancer may be removed to confirm the diagnosis, and the rest of the planned operation will be stopped.

If treatment is planned before surgery, a biopsy is needed first to be sure of the diagnosis.

How Is Pancreatic Cancer Typically Diagnosed

Pancreatic Cancer Illustrations, Royalty

In addition to blood tests, other tests play an important role in diagnosing pancreatic cancer.

Imaging tests help your doctor look for signs of cancer in your body. A variety of imaging tests may be used, including:

  • CT scan:CT scans use X-rays to make cross-sectional images of your body. When pancreatic cancer is suspected, a special type of CT scan called a multiphase CT scan is often used.
  • MRI scan: An MRI scan makes an image using strong magnets and radio waves. While CT scans are typically the standard imaging for pancreatic cancer, MRI scans may sometimes also be used.
  • PET scan:PET scans use a special radioactive marker that localizes to cancer cells. These cells are then detected using a specialized camera. It can be combined with a CT scan to better understand how far the cancer has spread.
  • Ultrasound:Ultrasound uses sound waves to make images of the inside of your body. A type of ultrasound called an endoscopic ultrasound can help diagnose pancreatic cancer.
  • Cholangiopancreatography: A cholangiopancreatography is a type of imaging procedure that can help your doctor find tumors that may be blocking ducts in and around the pancreas.

Another important test for pancreatic cancer is a tissue sample, or biopsy, thats collected from the affected area and is checked for cancer cells. If cancer is present, further tests can help better characterize the cancer.

  • blood clots, which often affect the large veins in the leg
  • new-onset diabetes or worsening of existing diabetes

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Can Colonoscopy Detect Pancreatic Cancer

Due to the position of the pancreas in your body, doctors cannot use a colonoscopy to detect pancreatic cancer.

A colonoscopy is another type of imaging procedure that uses a small camera on a scope inside the body. But unlike an endoscopy, a colonoscopy looks for problems in your lower GI tract, such as the colon or rectum, helping detect cancers, ulcers, or polyps in these areas.

For this reason, doctors primarily use a colonoscopy as a screening tool for colorectal cancer. Doctors may recommend these screenings start at

What Does Pancreatic Cancer Look Like On An Ultrasound

Only some parts of the pancreas are visible during an abdominal ultrasound. If signs of cancer, like a tumor mass or inflammation, are present in those sections, they might be visible in the images created by an abdominal ultrasound.

Tumors in other parts of the pancreas wont be visible with an abdominal ultrasound. But endoscope ultrasounds can better detect these tumors. Tumors will appear as masses on endoscopic images.

Endoscopic ultrasounds can also detect enlarged bile ducts.

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Abdominal Ultrasound For Pancreatic Cancer Procedure

An abdominal ultrasound generally takes less than an hour, and you dont need to take any special steps before your appointment. Youll be able to drive yourself to and from your ultrasound, and you can plan on returning to work or resuming any other standard daily activities.

At your appointment, youll be asked to change into a patient gown and remove any jewelry. Youll lie on an examination table during the procedure, and gel will be applied to your abdomen. This gel is safe and wont stain.

The ultrasound technician will use a device called a transducer against your stomach. This sends sound waves through your body and creates images. An ultrasound is generally painless.

You should have your results back as soon as a doctor reads and interprets the images. The exact timeframe for this can vary, but it shouldnt be more than a week. You can ask the ultrasound technologist if they can estimate how long it might take before you receive your results.

Genetic Counseling And Testing

New Treatment Could Offer Hope To Pancreatic Cancer Patients | NBC Nightly News

If youâve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, your doctor might suggest speaking with a genetic counselor to determine if you could benefit from genetic testing.

Some people with pancreatic cancer have gene mutations in all the cells of their body, which put them at increased risk for pancreatic cancer . Testing for these gene mutations can sometimes affect which treatments might be helpful. It might also affect whether other family members should consider genetic counseling and testing as well.

For more information on genetic testing, see Genetics and Cancer.

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What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer

Finding pancreatic cancer early is challenging, but there are some signs and symptoms that can help people find out if they have the cancer early by looking for attention to certain indicators.

If any of the signs and symptoms described below are present, certain exams and tests may be done to determine whether the symptom is caused by pancreatic cancer or another disease. Its also important to note that if these symptoms occur, it might already be in its late stages, and its critical to seek medical care immediately.

  • Weight loss and poor appetite
  • Digestive problems
  • Blood clots or fatty tissue abnormalities

Biopsy: The Most Accurate Method

The most accurate way to diagnose pancreatic cancer is through biopsy: removing a piece of tissue from the suspected problem area and analyzing the sample under a microscope.

Doctors can collect this tissue through various biopsy methods:

  • Inserting a thin, hollow needle through the skin into the pancreas.
  • Using an endoscope threaded down the throat, through the stomach, and into the small intestine near the pancreas.
  • Surgically removing pancreatic cells.

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Positron Emission Tomography Scan

For a PET scan, you are injected with a slightly radioactive form of sugar, which collects mainly in cancer cells. A special camera is then used to create a picture of areas of radioactivity in the body.

This test is sometimes used to look for spread from exocrine pancreatic cancers.

PET/CT scan: Special machines can do both a PET and CT scan at the same time. This lets the doctor compare areas of higher radioactivity on the PET scan with the more detailed appearance of that area on the CT scan. This test can help determine the stage of the cancer. It might be especially useful for spotting cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas and wouldnât be treatable by surgery.

Endoscopic Ultrasound For Pancreatic Cancer Procedure

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Before an endoscopic ultrasound, its important to talk with your doctor about any medications including vitamins and supplements that you take. They might ask you to stop taking specific medications, like blood thinners, for a few days before the test.

Other test-day instructions will likely include not eating for several hours before the test and making sure you have a ride to and from your appointment. If you dont have a ride, your doctors office might be able to help you arrange one.

During your appointment, youll be hooked to an IV line to receive sedative medication. Youll also receive a throat numbing spray or gargle. Both of these medications will keep you relaxed and free of pain during the procedure.

Often, a mouthpiece will be placed in your mouth to help keep your lips and teeth apart. The endoscope tube will then be carefully passed into your mouth and down your throat. Air might be pumped into your throat to make it easier to see your digestive tract.

An endoscopic ultrasound can be done very quickly, in as little as 15 minutes. Or, it might take over an hour. It depends on how many images are taken, what doctors find, and if doctors are also taking cell samples to biopsy.

After the endoscope and mouthpiece are removed, youll be monitored for a few hours. Your throat will be numb, and youll still feel the effects of the sedative. You wont be permitted to eat or drink anything until the numbing medication wears off.

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Validate Validate And Cross Validate

The validation phase included multiple independent investigations. Beginning with high-quality plasma samples from 10 patients with pancreatic cancer and 10 carefully matched control individuals without disease , they found that elevated levels of only one of the three proteins, THBS2, accurately and reliably discriminated between the patient samples and those from healthy controls.

Confirmation of the potential importance of THBS2 came when they looked at data from The Cancer Genome Atlas, which showed that THBS2 levels were much higher in pancreatic tumors than nearly all other tumor types.

The next phase of the validation involved testing for THBS2 in two larger collections of human plasma samples . These collections included a broader array of samples, including from patients with early- and late-stage pancreatic cancer, healthy individuals, and patients with a history of chronic pancreatitis.

Again, measuring THBS2 levels accurately distinguished the samples from patients with pancreatic cancer from the non-cancer samples. Plasma levels of a protein biomarker already used to track the progression of pancreatic cancer, CA19-9, also demonstrated similar accuracy, they reported.

They then refined the testing approach to identify the levels of the two markers that would most accurately detect cancer, settling on levels that provided 99% specificity , and 87% sensitivity .

And, for the most part, they were able to validate our data, Dr. Zaret said.

Pancreatic Cancer Tests And Staging

Reviewing test results enables the care team to put together a more complete picture of each patient’s condition, including the stage of the cancer and treatment options.

Determining the stage of pancreatic cancer is based on three important factors:

  • The size of the tumor and whether it has grown beyond the pancreas
  • Whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as other organs or bones

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Noticing The Early Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer

  • 1Watch for jaundice. One of the first signs of pancreatic cancer can be jaundice, also known as icterus, which is the yellowing of the skin, eyes and mucus membranes due to too much bilirubin in the bloodstream. Pancreatic cancer blocks the ducts that release this bile into your intestine, causing it to build up in the blood and turn skin and eyes yellowish. If you have jaundice, your stool will also be light, your urine becomes dark, and your skin will feel itchy. Look at your skin and eyes in a well-lit mirror to check for yellow discoloration.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Cancer SocietyNonprofit devoted to promoting cancer research, education, and supportGo to source
  • Jaundice also causes itchy skin.
  • The parts of the eyes that turn yellow are called the sclera, or the white part of your eye.
  • To confirm jaundice , your doctor may test your urine for bile or order a blood test.
  • 2Take notice of a sore abdomen. One of the first signs of pancreatic cancer can sometimes be a diffuse abdominal aching and soreness, although many people don’t feel any pain until the cancer is advanced. The pancreas gland is located behind the stomach and in front of the spine pretty much in the middle of your belly. It secretes insulin , hormones and digestive enzymes. If your belly soreness doesn’t go away after a week, contact your doctor.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Cancer SocietyNonprofit devoted to promoting cancer research, education, and supportGo to source
  • Should You Get Screened

    Early detection is key when it comes to pancreatic cancer

    Health authorities, including the American Cancer Society, do not recommend pancreatic cancer screening for the general population. However, people who have certain genetic mutations , and those who have two or more blood relatives with the disease may benefit from annual pancreatic cancer screening.

    Pancreatic cysts are another risk factor. These are often found during a scan for something else. People with pancreatic cysts may also benefit from annual screening.

    If you fall into a high-risk category, your doctor may suggest taking steps to reduce your risk, such as:

    • Maintain a healthy weight

    They might also suggest annual screening exams. According to Anand, high-risk patients often alternate between EUS and MRCP on an annual basis. So one year you would do an MRCP and the next, an EUS. Unfortunately, both of these tests can result in false positives.

    While its alarming to hear that you have a cyst or some other abnormality that needs to be watched, these screening exams offer the best odds of finding pancreatic cancer early, when its most treatable.


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    Is It Hard To Catch Pancreatic Cancer Early

    Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose early. Pancreatic cancer very rarely causes early symptoms, and people without an elevated risk for pancreatic risk arent typically screened for cancer.

    Often, pancreatic cancer isnt found until symptoms appear unless its found during testing for another, unrelated, condition. As more early-detection tests are developed and become available, this might change, and screening for pancreatic cancer could become standard.

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    Pancreatic Cancer Could Be Diagnosed Up To Three Years Earlier

    Pancreatic cancer could be identified in patients up to three years earlier than current diagnoses, new research suggests. Weight loss and increasing blood glucose levels are early indicators of pancreatic cancer and could lead to a more timely diagnosis, helping to improve survival rates.

    In the largest study of its kind, researchers from the University of Oxford, in partnership with Pancreatic Cancer Action and the University of Surrey, investigated signs of pancreatic cancer, including weight loss, hyperglycaemia and diabetes and demonstrated the timelines for when they develop in relation to cancer. The pancreas is a vital organ with two key functions, to produce insulin and digestive enzymes. Cancer can affect one or both of these functions leading to the above symptoms. Currently, almost 90 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed too late for curative treatment.

    Lead author Dr Agnieszka Lemanska, Lecturer in Data Science at the University of Surrey, said: ‘Due to the difficulty in detecting pancreatic cancer, survival rates are extremely poor compared to other cancers, with less than 10 per cent of people surviving five years or more after diagnosis.

    ‘I am one of the one per cent who survive pancreatic cancer beyond 10 years, and it’s a lonely place to be.” a lonely place to be.’

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