Testing and Diagnostics for Pancreatic Cancer

Our one-day assessment includes state-of-the-art diagnostics and advanced testing. This helps our doctors get a clear picture of your unique medical condition. After your evaluation visit, cutting-edge treatments can begin.

Tumor Board Provides Treatment Recommendations During Your First Visit

The Pancreas Tumor Board is a multidisciplinary team that works together to develop an individualized treatment plan to optimize your outcomes. The Board consists of gastrointestinal medical oncologists, pancreas surgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists and advanced endoscopists, a dietitian, social worker, and clinical coordinators.

Coordination of diagnostic tests for pancreatic conditions

At the Pancreas Tumor Center, our advanced technology provides detailed images that help your medical team accurately assess your pancreatic condition. If you have had recent radiology testing, we will obtain, review and determine if new testing is required.

Imaging diagnostics

  • MRI: A magnetic resonance imaging scan uses magnetic fields and radio waves with a high-tech computer to produce detailed images of organs and tissue within your body. Highly detailed black and white images are created that reveal even the smallest abnormalities.  
  • MRCP: Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography is a specialized MRI exam that produces detailed images of your hepatobiliary (liver, gallbladder and bile ducts) and pancreatic systems (pancreas and pancreatic duct) on a monitor.
  • CT Scan or Computed Tomography: This type of scan uses a combination of X-ray measurements from various angles on a specific area which allows your doctor to see what’s happening inside your body.

Our lab work routinely includes the following:

  • CBC: complete blood count
  • CMP: complete metabolic panel
  • Amylase: pancreatic enzyme
  • Lipase: pancreatic enzyme
  • INR: international normalized ratio
  • CA 19-9: cancer antigen 19-9 is sometimes produced by pancreatic, bile duct and gall bladder cancers
  • Chromogranin A: a protein produced by neuroendocrine cells in some neuroendocrine tumors

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is available for individuals whose personal or family history suggests they may be affected by a genetic disease. Genetic diseases are caused by disruptions to a gene, also known as genetic mutations, which affect a person’s health, appearance or functioning. In  our clinic, we evaluate patients for:  inherited pancreatic cancer syndromes, meaning there is a higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer and hereditary pancreatitis, which often affects individuals at younger ages than what is typical. In some scenarios, we test patients who  haveno other risk factors. 

Genetic testing is performed on a blood or saliva sample to search for a mutation that could explain that person’s pattern of disease and help their doctors make decisions regarding their medical care.

Types of Genetic Testing

Site-Specific Testing

If your family member has undergone genetic testing that positively identified a genetic mutation, then site-specific testing is available for you to determine whether you carry that same genetic change. Individuals who test negative for the familial mutation are not considered high risk to develop the disease and will not pass along the mutation to their children.

In contrast, individuals who do carry the familial mutation may benefit from increased screening to promote earlier detection of cancer or pancreatitis and can pass along the mutation to their children. 

Single Gene Testing

Single gene testing is available to individuals who have a personal and family history that is most suspicious for a particular genetic disorder. This testing searches for mutations within the coding regions of the gene, and can be a useful tool to help determine appropriate screening or treatment options for the tested individual. If a mutation is discovered, site-specific testing can be made available for family members to help also guide their medical care. 

Panel Testing

Panel testing allows the laboratory to analyze multiple genes at the same time. This option is available to individuals whose personal and family history could be suggestive of more than one genetic disorder or may be affected with a genetic condition that can be caused by mutations in more than one gene. The results of this testing can be used to make determinations regarding an individual’s medical care, and can be used to inform family members’ health risks, as well. While this testing allows for rapid analysis with high accuracy, it may also reveal unexpected findings, genetic alterations with uncertain clinical significance or identify mutations in more than one gene (and indicate that that person is affected with more than one genetic condition). 

Genetic counseling is strongly encouraged for anybody who is interested in seeking genetic testing. For more information about inherited cancer conditions or to make an appointment for genetic counseling, please visit the Cancer Genetics and High-Risk Screening Clinic website.