Uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells in the pancreas can lead to pancreatic cancer. Healthcare professionals may use endoscopies to help diagnose pancreatic cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society,
Detecting pancreatic cancer early may improve a person’s outlook. Several different types of endoscopy can help healthcare professionals detect and diagnose pancreatic cancer. Endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS) is particularly useful for identifying tumors and disease stages.
This article explores how endoscopy can help detect pancreatic cancer. It also discusses how endoscopy works, different types of endoscopy, other diagnostic tests for pancreatic cancer, and when to speak with a doctor.
During an endoscopy, a medical professional
Certain kinds of endoscopy tests can help with pancreatic cancer diagnosis. For example, an EUS test uses an endoscope with a tiny ultrasound probe on it. This test may provide
An endoscopy may also involve taking samples of tissue within the pancreas. If an EUS test detects growths, a doctor may want to take a biopsy of these growths for testing. They can then use the endoscope to help take a tissue sample.
After a biopsy, laboratory tests can determine whether a tissue sample is cancerous. They may also be able to determine how advanced the cancer is.
Research suggests that EUS is an effective tool for diagnosing pancreatic cancer, with reports of 87–100% of EUS tests providing accurate diagnoses of this disease.
Additionally, endoscopy is typically a safe procedure. However, it does come with some risks. A person should speak with a doctor to learn more about the accuracy and safety of this procedure.
There are a number of different types of endoscopy tests for detecting pancreatic cancer. A healthcare professional may choose which type to use depending on the individual.
An EUS test uses an ultrasound probe that
Most people who undergo EUS do not experience negative side effects. Studies suggest that only 1.1%–3% of these individuals experience negative effects from EUS testing.
EUS-guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA)
In certain cases, doctors may want to take a tissue sample from the pancreas. One
During EUS-FNA, a doctor uses an EUS device to guide a needle through the body. With the help of EUS images, they direct this needle to the tissue site. They can then remove a small tissue sample from the pancreas for further testing.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
ERCP is an imaging tool that can help diagnose and treat cancer in the pancreas and bile ducts. However, it is becoming less common as other imaging modalities improve.
During ERCP, healthcare professionals pass an endoscope down through the throat and into the first part of the small intestine. When the endoscope is in this area, a healthcare professional can see where the common bile duct empties into the small intestine, which they call the ampulla of Vater.
In addition to inserting the endoscope, a doctor may take X-rays of the pancreas and surrounding tissue to help show any narrowing or blockages in the ducts that pancreatic cancer may be causing. A healthcare professional can also remove cells for a biopsy by putting a small brush through the endoscope.
In addition to endoscopy, doctors use other diagnostic tests to detect and diagnose pancreatic cancer. These tests
- MRI scans
- CT scans
- PET scans
- other forms of cholangiopancreatography, which are imaging tests that examine the bile ducts and pancreatic ducts, such as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography
- blood tests
- different types of biopsies
Individuals with symptoms of pancreatic cancer should speak with a doctor to learn more about the diagnostic process.
In the early stages of pancreatic cancer, a person may not experience any symptoms. However,
- dark urine
- blood clots
- abdominal pain
- back pain
- loss of appetite
- unintentional weight loss
- enlargement of the liver or gallbladder
People experiencing any of these symptoms should speak with a medical professional, who can evaluate a person’s symptoms. They can help a person identify the cause of their symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.
Pancreatic cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the pancreas. Receiving an early diagnosis of this disease may help improve a person’s outlook.
Certain types of endoscopy can detect pancreatic cancer, such as EUS, EUS-FNA, and ERCP. These tests use an endoscope to take a closer look at the pancreas, which helps doctors identify unusual growths and take a tissue sample if necessary.
A person should speak with a doctor to learn more about endoscopy for pancreatic cancer or if they think they may be experiencing any symptoms of the condition.