NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Pancreatic Cancer, Version 1.2014
Blood tests are used to check for signs of disease,
how well organs are working, and treatment results.
One common blood test is a complete blood cell
count. This test counts the number of blood cells in a
blood sample. Too few or too many cells may signal
there’s a problem.
A blood chemistry test is another common type of
blood test. This test measures the levels of different
chemicals in the blood. Abnormal levels—too low or
too high—can be caused by cancer or other diseases.
Liver function tests are a type of blood chemistry test
often used for pancreatic cancer. The liver removes
waste from the blood and releases fluids to help
digest food. Liver function tests check for chemicals
that are made or processed by the liver. Levels that
are too high or low signal that the liver is not working
CA 19-9 is a substance found in blood that is often
high in people with pancreatic cancer. High levels
can be caused by pancreatic cancer or other health
problems. A CA 19-9 blood test is used to check how
well cancer treatment is working. This test is not used
to confirm (diagnose) pancreatic cancer.
Bilirubin is a chemical that gives bile its color. Bile
is fluid made by the liver to help digest food. Bile
flows out of the liver through small tubes called bile
ducts. There may be too much bilirubin in the blood
if a tumor is blocking a bile duct. Too much bilirubin
causes a yellowing of the eyes and skin—a condition
called jaundice. It also increases the level of CA 19-9
in the blood.
Your doctor may change your treatment plan based
on the results of blood tests. How many times
your blood will be tested depends on the cancer
treatments you receive and other factors. Common
side effects of blood tests are bruising and dizziness.
Tests for pancreatic cancer