“It is difficult to detect Pancreatic Cancer. There aren’t standard screening tests for this type of cancer, and symptoms often don’t show until later stages.”
Pancreatic cancer can be diagnosed using abdominal and endoscopic ultrasounds. Both of these tests can help detect tumors, inflammation, and other signs of cancer, but they are not enough to confirm a diagnosis.
In this article, we look at how the use of the ultrasound is used to detect and diagnose cancer.
An ultrasound is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body. The images created by an ultrasound allow doctors to see muscles, organs, blood vessels, tissues, and bones. They can help diagnose a variety of conditions, including cancer.
Ultrasounds are done with a machine that works on the outside of your body. Or, by using a device called an endoscope that goes inside your body. Doctors often use both types of ultrasounds when diagnosing pancreatic cancer.
Ultrasounds create images of the pancreas that can help doctors spot tumors. There are two types that are commonly used during the pancreatic cancer diagnostic process. If your doctor suspects you have pancreatic cancer, you might have one or both types performed.
- Abdominal ultrasound. An abdominal ultrasound can help doctors get a complete picture of your abdominal region. It’s a good way to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms, and it might be one of the first tests you have done. If no other conditions are spotted on this ultrasound, you might have a CT scan or an endoscopic ultrasound.
- Endoscopic ultrasound. During an endoscopic ultrasound, a thin tube called an endoscope is inserted through your mouth, down your esophagus, and directly into your stomach and intestines. This allows doctors to see your digestive tract up close and to collect tumor cell samples for a biopsy.
Both tests use sound wave technology to create images of your body. They allow doctors to look for signs of cancer.
The test alone is not enough to diagnose the disease. The data they can provide is important and can help doctors plan the next steps.
The parts of the pancreas that are visible are the ones that are in the abdominal area. If there are signs of cancer in those sections, they can be seen in the images created by an abdominal ultrasound.
“There are tumors in other parts of the pancreas that won’t be visible with an abdominal ultrasound. But echocardiography can detect these tumors. Tumors will appear on images.”
Enlarged bile ducts can be detected with endoscopicultrasound.
The type of ultrasound you are having will affect the procedure. Both types are done as outpatient procedures, but the latter is more complex. You will be given a sedative during the endoscopic ultrasound to prevent any pain.
Below you can read more about each procedure.
Abdominal ultrasound for pancreatic cancer procedure
“You don’t need to take any special steps before your appointment, an abdominal ultrasound takes less than an hour. You will be able to drive yourself to and from your hospital, and you can plan on returning to work or resuming other activities.”
You will be asked to change into a gown and take off jewelry at your appointment. You will lie on a table and the gel will be applied to your abdomen. This gel is safe.
The technician will use a device to record your body movements. This creates images by sending sound waves through your body. An painless ultrasound is generally a machine.
As soon as the doctor reads the images, you should get your results. The exact time frame can vary, but it should be less than a week. You can ask the technologist how long it will take to get your results.
Endoscopic ultrasound for pancreatic cancer procedure
Before an endoscopic ultrasound, it’s important to talk with your doctor about any medications — including vitamins and supplements — that you take. They might ask you to stop taking specific medications, like blood thinners, for a few days before the test.
“You should not eat for several hours before the test and make sure you have a ride to and from your appointment. If you don’t have a ride, your doctor’s office can help you arrange one.”
During your appointment, you’ll be hooked to an IV line to receive sedative medication. You’ll also receive a throat numbing spray or gargle. Both of these medications will keep you relaxed and free of pain during the procedure.
A mouth guard is placed in your mouth to keep your mouth and teeth apart. The tube will be passed into your mouth and throat. It is possible that air is pumped into your throat to make it easier to see your stomach.
An endoscopic ultrasound can be done in 15 minutes. It might take over an hour. It depends on how many images are taken, what doctors find, and if doctors are also taking cell samples to biopsy.
“You will be monitored for a few hours after the endoscope and mouthguard are removed. You will still feel the effects of the sedative, but your throat will be numb. You can’t eat or drink until the numbing medication wears off.”
You should be able to return home within a few hours, and you should have results in less than a week.
An abdominal ultrasound is not the best way to diagnose cancer. This test is best at determining if there are other causes of the symptoms. An abdominal ultrasound can sometimes detect pancreas cysts, but it is not used to look at the entire abdomen.
An endoscopic ultrasound is more accurate than a conventional one. A fine needle aspiration is one of the main benefits of an endoscopic ultrasound. This allows doctors to get samples of any abnormality seen during the exam.
Exact numbers vary, but multiple studies have found that they have a tumor detection accuracy rate of about
There is a margin of error for endoscopic ultrasounds. They can miss tumors due to unclear images. Their accuracy rate makes them useful.
The types of the ultrasound can not confirm a diagnosis. If your doctor suspects you have cancer, you will likely have a number of other tests. They could include:
- CT scan. Doctors use them to see the inside of the pancreas and get an idea of the size, location, and scope of tumors.
- PET scan. During a PET scan, you’ll receive an injection of radioactively marked sugar. Cancer cells consume more sugar than healthy cells. The radioactive markers in the sugar substance make the cancerous cells appear brighter in images, allowing doctors to easily identify their location.
- An MRI. MRIs use magnetic imaging to create detailed images of organs, muscles, bones, and tissues. During the pancreatic cancer diagnostic process, doctors use a specialized type of MRI, called an MRI cholangiopancreatography, that creates detailed images of the pancreatic and bile ducts.
- An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). During an ERCP, you’ll receive contrast dye that will make your bile ducts visible. An ERCP uses an endoscope to take images. Sometimes, a biopsy is done during an ERCP.
- A percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC). A PTC test is an invasive procedure that isn’t done unless an ERCP isn’t possible. This test is done by placing a long needle into the liver and injecting contrast dye directly. Images are then taken.
What’s the first diagnostic test typically done for pancreatic cancer?
What are the first symptoms of pancreatic cancer and when should you see a doctor?
If you have had symptoms for more than a week or two, it is important to see a doctor right away.
It is always best to get checked out if you have symptoms that are caused by another condition. Pancreatic cancer is most likely to be caught early.
Additionally, there are often no symptoms in the early stages of pancreatic cancer. This means that by the time symptoms show, cancer might have already spread.
If you have had any symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer, it is best to make a medical appointment.
- There is a problem of jaundice.
- It is possible to lose weight unintentionally.
- itchy skin
- Back pain.
- stomach ache
- blood clots, especially in the legs
- The appetite has been lost.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Light colored stools.
- Dark urine.
Who’s at most risk for pancreatic cancer?
“There are a few known risk factors for cancer. You can’t change risk factors like your age or genetics. Smoking and weight management are risk factors that you can control.”
There are risk factors for Pancreatic Cancer.
- a family history of pancreatic cancer
- Family cancer syndrome is a family trait.
- Being over 65.
- Being assigned male at birth.
- “It’s obese.”
- There is a disease called diabetes.
- It is possible that there is chronic or hereditary pancreatitis.
- Exposure to pesticides or chemicals in the workplace.
In the United States, Black Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
Are there yearly recommended screening tests for pancreatic cancer?
“There are no recommended yearly screening tests for Pancreatic Cancer. There are some tests that are available to people who are at high risk for Pancreatic Cancer, but they aren’t covered by insurance companies.”
Standard screenings might be available in the future, as researchers work to develop additional tests.
Diagnostic scans can help detect cancer. They use sound waves to create pictures of your body.
Abdominal and endoscopic ultrasounds are used in the detection of Pancreatic Cancer.
An abdominal ultrasound is used to rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms, while an endoscopic ultrasound can be used to get a sample of thePancreatic cancer.