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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Pancreatic Cancer, Version 1.2017


Treatment planning

Imaging tests

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan

An MRI scan uses radio waves and powerful

magnets to take pictures of the inside of the body. It

does not use x-rays. An MRI may cause your body to

feel a bit warm. Like a CT scan, a contrast dye may

be used to make the pictures clearer. A special type

of MRI scan, called a pancreatic protocol MRI scan,

is recommended for pancreatic cancer. A pancreatic

protocol MRI scan is done in a certain way so that

it focuses on the pancreas and nearby areas. This

special MRI scan allows doctors to clearly see the

pancreas, nearby blood vessels, and very small

tumors. For some people, a pancreatic protocol

MRI scan may be used instead of CT to view the


MRCP (magnetic resonance


An MRCP is a type of MRI scan that makes very

clear pictures of the pancreas and bile ducts. No

contrast dye is used because bile and other fluids

serve as contrast. An MRCP takes about 10 minutes,

but it is often done along with a normal MRI scan.

Scopes/Internal imaging

Some imaging tests use a thin, tube-shaped tool

called a scope that is inserted into the body to take

pictures. One end of the scope has a small light and

camera lens to see inside your body. At the other end

of the scope is an eyepiece that your doctor looks

through to see the images shown by the camera.

The scope is guided into the body through a natural

opening, such as the mouth or nose. It may also be

inserted through a small surgical cut.

More than one type of scope may be used for

imaging tests. The type of scope often used for

pancreatic cancer is called an endoscope. An

endoscope is often guided into the body through

the mouth. The types of imaging tests with scopes

recommended for pancreatic cancer are described


EUS (endoscopic ultrasound)

An EUS uses an endoscope that has a small

ultrasound probe at the end. The endoscope is

inserted through your mouth and guided down your

throat and stomach to the first part of the small

intestine (duodenum). The ultrasound probe bounces

sound waves off your pancreas and other organs

to make pictures of the inside of your body. EUS is

often done to get a close look at your pancreas and

any tumor that might be in it. Sometimes an EUS

can detect small lesions (abnormal areas) in the

pancreas that are difficult to see on CT or MRI. An







spiration) or needle biopsy can be

performed during EUS if any abnormalities are seen.

An EUS takes about 15 to 45 minutes. For this test,

your doctor will first give you a sedative. A sedative

is medicine that will make you feel relaxed or sleepy.

After the test, your throat may feel sore and you may

feel bloated.

Your medical



Your doctors will order tests and

schedule visits to talk about your

care plan.


It is helpful to keep track of

your test results at all times. Ask

your doctors questions about the