Pancreatic cancer is mostly diagnosed in the later stages. This is pertaining to the fact that the core symptoms become clear only at later stages. It can be diagnosed with imaging techniques blood tests and biopsy. After you have been diagnosed with cancer, one has to go for staging to determine the proper treatment of the disease.
Pancreatic Cancer is cancer that starts in the lining of the pancreas. Cancer cannot be diagnosed in the early stages because the symptoms are of jaundice and other flu. The core symptoms are available only at the later stages. Therefore, diagnosis is done in the later stages. The diagnosis and staging of cancer are both important to go for further treatment of cancer.
Diagnostic Techniques for Pancreatic Cancer
Generally, the diagnosis is done when cancer has spread to later stages. The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer includes the following –
- Imaging tests – These tests are done to get the internal pictures of the organs. These tests take out the images of your internal organs such as the pancreas. These imaging techniques include the Ultrasound, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, Computerized Tomography (CT Scan) and Techniques used to diagnose pancreatic cancer include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Endoscopy – During the endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), the internal images of the pancreas are created. It uses an ultrasound device from inside your abdomen to make images of your pancreas. Endoscopy is a device that is thin, flexible tube endoscope that passes down your esophagus and into your stomach in order to obtain the images.
- Biopsy- Basically it involves removing a tissue sample for testing. This procedure involves the removal of a sample of tissue and then it is sent for examination under a microscope. The oncologist and pathologist, in endoscopy, take out a sample of tissue from the pancreas. This is done by inserting a needle through the pancreas via your skin. This procedure is known as fine-needle aspiration. This can also be removed using EUS which guides the special tools into the pancreas.
- Blood test – These tests are done to check the abnormalities in the Your doctor may test your blood for specific proteins tumor markers shed by pancreatic cancer cells. These tumor markers are special proteins. One test that determines the pancreatic cancer is called CA19-9. Sometimes the test is not reliable and does not show the clear test results. However, there is ambiguity in the use of CA19-9. Some doctors also use the measure CA19-9 to test your levels before, during and after the treatment.
Determining the extent of Pancreatic Cancer
Once you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the second step is to determine the extent or stage of cancer. The doctor assigns you a stage of pancreatic cancer using the results of the diagnostic techniques stage. The diagnosis and extent will help the doctor determine what treatments will benefit you.
The stages of pancreatic cancer are indicated by Alphabet from A to D or in the form of Roman numerals ranging from 0 to IV. I is the lowest stage and indicates that the cancer is confined just to the pancreas. While, stage IV, is the highest stage and suggests that cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
The cancer staging system has been evolving with time. Some of them have simplified the procedures and some are more complex as doctors improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.
If you have any doubts, get a second opinion. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about their experience in the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Also, you can ask about the success rate of the treatment and other difficulties that one might face after or during the surgery or in other treatments.
Therefore, the staging of cancer is equally important as a diagnosis of cancer. One should consult the oncologist in time for better and prompt treatment.