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Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer - How to prevent?

Pancreatic Cancer - Diagnosis

 
The signs and symptoms of the disease are non-specific. If pancreatic cancer is suspected, the initial diagnostic test would be a CT or computerised scan of the abdomen. The CT scan is able to detect any pancreatic mass greater than 2cm 95% of the time. Smaller cancers are more difficult to detect. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can visualise the pancreas and the ducts in the pancreas. This can be particularly useful when planning surgery.

Another procedure that is often done is an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreaticography (ERCP) which involves using a fiberoptic scope to look into the stomach and small intestine where the ducts of the pancreas drain into. X-ray dye is then injected into the ducts of the pancreas and x-rays taken of the pancreas.

Irregularities of the pancreatic ducts can then be visualised. Small pieces of tissue can also be biopsied during this procedure. If a blockage of the ducts is seen, a small plastic tube, called a stent, can be placed during this same procedure to try and bypass the block. Potential complications of this procedure include infection of the pancreas and perforation of the small intestine. A stent which is placed will need to be changed 3 to 4 monthly because the stent can be blocked by normal secretions from the pancreas.

Sometimes, when a biopsy cannot be obtained via ERCP, a percutaneous biopsy of the pancreatic lesion is performed to obtain tumour tissue for diagnosis. This involves inserting a needle through the abdominal wall to the pancreas under CT or ultrasound imaging guidance.

Pancreatic Cancer - Preparing for surgery

Pancreatic Cancer - Post-surgery care

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