Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Pancreatic Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Pancreatic Cancer - Exams and Tests

To look for or diagnose pancreatic cancer, your doctor will use one or more imaging tests—tests that produce pictures of the pancreas and the area around it. Such tests include:

Imaging tests can show evidence of pancreatic cancer. But your doctor may also order a biopsy. This means getting a sample of tissue from the pancreas to see if it contains cancer cells. There are two main kinds:

Recommended Related to Pancreatic Cancer

Lisa Niemi: Healing From the Loss of Patrick Swayze

Since 2009, when actor Patrick Swayze died from pancreatic cancer, his widow, Lisa Niemi, a dancer, writer, and yoga practitioner, has focused not only on her own healing process, but on leading efforts to fight the disease in this country.  WebMD the Magazine sat down with Niemi and asked her about her grieving, her advocacy work, and her thoughts on marriage and self-care.

Read the Lisa Niemi: Healing From the Loss of Patrick Swayze article > >

  • LaparoscopyLaparoscopy. The doctor makes a small cut in your skin and inserts a small tube with a camera on the end. When the camera reaches the pancreas, the doctor can use the same tube to collect tissue samples.
  • Needle biopsyNeedle biopsy. Tissue samples are collected through a needle. This may be done with a needle inserted through the skin and into the pancreas or as part of an endoscopy.

Staging and grading

An important part of treating most types of cancer is staging and grading. This means looking at tissue samples under a microscope to see whether the cancer cells have spread beyond the pancreas and what kind of cells they are.

For pancreatic cancer, the tissue samples may be collected during a separate biopsy or during an endoscopic ultrasound. Sometimes the biopsy is done at the time of surgery to remove the cancer.

Knowing the stage and grade helps doctors know whether surgery will work to remove the cancer or what kind of treatment will help you feel better.

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 05, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms And Treatment
SLIDESHOW
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis And Early Detection
REFERENCE
 
Integrative Medicine Cancer Quiz
QUIZ
Patrick Swayzes Widow Healing From Loss
FEATURE
 
Pets Improve Your Health
SLIDESHOW
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 

WebMD Special Sections