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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Pancreatic Cancer, Version 1.2017


Treatment planning

Imaging tests

When the doctor checks your body for signs of

disease, it is called a physical exam. Doctors often

perform a physical exam along with taking a medical


Your doctor will check your:



Eyes, ears, nose, and throat



Lungs, heart, and belly (abdomen)



Body by feeling and using pressure to see

if organs are of normal size, soft or hard, or

cause pain when touched

Your doctor will also check for jaundice. Jaundice

is a yellowing of the skin and eyes due to a buildup

of bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is a yellow-brown

substance in bile. Bile is a chemical made by the

liver that flows through bile ducts in the liver into

the intestines to help digest food. A tumor in the

pancreas can cause jaundice by blocking the main

bile duct.

Imaging tests

Imaging tests allow your doctors to see inside your

body. The images may show if there is a tumor in

your pancreas as well as the tumor size and location.

Imaging tests are often easy to undergo. There is

more than one type of imaging test for pancreatic

cancer. Pictures (images) can be made with

scanning machines or scoping tools.

Scans/Imaging scans

Scanning machines are large and have a tunnel in

the middle. Before the test, you may be asked to stop

eating or drinking for several hours. You also should

remove any metal objects that are on your body.

During the test, you will need to lie on a table that

moves slowly through the tunnel. Pillows or straps

may be used to keep you still during the test. You will

be alone, but a technician will operate the machine

in a nearby room. He or she will be able to see, hear,

and speak with you at all times.

As the machine takes pictures, you may hear

buzzing, clicking, or whirring sounds. A computer

combines all pictures into one detailed picture. An

imaging scan can take about 30 to 60 minutes to


Often, there are no side effects. If radiation is used,

the amount is small. You will likely be able to resume

your activities right away unless you were given a

sedative. The test results may not be ready for a few

days since a radiologist needs to see the pictures.

There is more than one type of imaging scan that

may be used for pancreatic cancer. The types of

imaging scans recommended for pancreatic cancer

are described next.