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Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed using a variety of tests. Not all people will be subject to all of the tests described here. If a medical professional suspects pancreatic cancer, one or more of the following tests may be ordered:
● Images of your internal organs are created through imaging tests. These tests allow your doctors to see inside your body, including your pancreas. Ultrasound, CT scans, MRIs, and in certain cases, PET scans are used to diagnose pancreatic cancer.
● Create ultrasound images of your pancreas with an endoscope. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a procedure that uses an ultrasound instrument to create images of your pancreas from inside your abdomen. To obtain the images, the instrument is sent down your throat and into your stomach using a small, flexible tube (endoscope).
● Take a biopsy of a tissue sample (biopsy). A biopsy is a technique that involves removing a small sample of tissue from the body for examination under a microscope. During an EUS, tissue is usually removed using special equipment that is passed through the endoscope. Less commonly, a sample of tissue from the pancreas is obtained by inserting a needle through the skin and into the pancreas (fine-needle aspiration).
● Blood test. Your doctor may do a blood test to look for specific proteins (tumor markers) that are secreted by pancreatic cancer cells. CA19-9 is a pancreatic cancer tumor marker test. It may help you find out how your cancer reacts to therapy. However, because some people with pancreatic cancer may not have elevated CA19-9 levels, the test is not always accurate.
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