NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Pancreatic Cancer, Version 1.2017
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
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.
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.