Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer

Support Throughout the Diagnostic Process

Our physicians, nurses and support staff are here to advise you, listen to you and calm your fears. Your physicians will explain your diagnosis and compassionately offer suggestions for treatment and care. They’re here for you.

Also available for counsel, support and guidance are nurse coordinators, oncology social workers and a pastoral team. They’ll help you navigate through the system and provide additional assistance, including:

  • Social support
  • Spiritual guidance
  • Emotional support
  • Practical advice
  • Tips on coping

Call on them. They’re here for you.

Diagnosing pancreatic cancer can be a challenge. Our team of specialists and subspecialists has the extensive experience necessary to do the expert detective work to identify and evaluate your pancreatic tumors.

Catching pancreatic cancer early is paramount to achieving a cure. The earlier your pancreatic cancer is found, the greater the likelihood of cure. At Scott & White we have leading-edge diagnostic equipment and some of the nation’s top diagnosticians here to help find your pancreatic tumors when cure is most likely.

We’ve got superb board-certified pathologists, too. They’re nationally noted for their excellence in classifying tumors and staging cancer, providing your Integrated Care Team with key information for your treatment plan.

Pancreatic Cancer Diagnostic Services

Scott & White offers a variety of methods used to detect pancreatic cancer. Your physician may order one or more of the following tests.

Physical and Laboratory Tests

  • Physical examination and history. Your physician may begin with a thorough physical exam and medical history.
  • Fine needle biopsy. A biopsy is the best way to confirm the presence of pancreatic cancer. Your physician may order a biopsy if cancer is suspected based on the results of other diagnostic tests. A fine needle biopsy of the pancreas is a procedure in which a tiny sample of pancreatic tissue is removed. It’s usually performed by a gastroenterologist with the aid of endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). EUS is a technique that allows your physician to see the cancer in your pancreas with the aid of an ultrasound and a very thin tube (endoscope) that is placed through your mouth into your stomach. A small needle is placed through the endoscope into your pancreas to procure the biopsy. The tissue sample is sent to the laboratory for evaluation by a pathologist.
  • Blood tests and tumor marker tests. There are a number of blood tests your physician may order to help determine treatment options for your pancreatic cancer. Your physician may also order one or more tumor marker tests. A tumor marker is a substance that may be found in a tumor or released from a tumor into your blood or other body fluids. A high level of a tumor marker may note the presence of cancer.
    • CA 19-9— Elevated levels may indicate exocrine pancreatic cancer
    • CEA

Imaging Studies

  • Endoscopic ultrasound
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. In this procedure, your physician will pass a lighted scope through your mouth and into the opening of your bile duct and into the first portion of your small intestine. This procedure can allow for sampling of a small piece of tissue (biopsy or brushings) to search for cancerous cells; it can also provide an X-ray image of pancreas and bile system after injecting contrast material.
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC)
  • Pancreatic protocol CT scan. This specialized CT scan provides acute detail of your pancreas by using different levels of detail to create sharper images.
  • Transabdominal ultrasound. An ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create an image of your internal organs. Your physician will pass the ultrasound transducer across your abdomen. The sound waves bounce off your gallbladder or bile duct system; a computer rearranges the waves into a picture that can reveal the presence of a mass and whether it’s sold or filled with fluid.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Pancreatic protocol CT scan. This specialized CT scan provides acute detail of your pancreas by using different levels of detail to create sharper images.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

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