Routine Tests and Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Recent statistics show that pancreatic cancer is becoming more common in the United Kingdom. Some suggest it is the 11th most common cancer whilst others suggest it is even the 4th most common cancer. Regardless, pancreatic cancer is particularly aggressive and survival rates are very low. Pancreatic cancer is often caught in the advanced stages, when it is very unlikely that treatment is still effective.

Diagnosis Routine Tests & Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

There are a few routine tests & pancreatic cancer symptoms that will be performed if pancreatic cancer is suspected.  These are:

  • A physical examination whereby the doctor may feel a hard mass.  However, it is very rare that pancreatic cancer is detected this way, and a GP should send you for further tests if pancreatic cancer is suspected.


  • An abdominal ultrasound, which is generally recommended if the patient presents with jaundice and abdominal pain.  If following the ultrasound pancreatic cancer is suspected, a CT scan will become the next routine test & pancreatic cancer symptoms.


  • A CT scan will demonstrate whether or not a tumour is present, where it is, how big it is and whether or not it has started to spread.  A biopsy of the growth would be the next step following a CT scan.


  • Biopsies can either be performed as a percutaneous biopsy (a needle that goes through the skin to the tumour) or as an endoscopic biopsy (whereby a tube is passed through the patient’s throat and a small needle attached to the tube will remove a part of the tumour).

After Treatment Routine Tests & Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Treatment for pancreatic cancer symptoms is usually performed through surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.  Once this has been performed, a patient will be asked to attend routine tests & pancreatic cancer symptoms.  Following surgery, a patient will generally spend some time in intensive care before returning home.  The initial routine appointment will usually take place after about six weeks.  Further routine tests & pancreatic cancer symptoms will generally take place every three to six months following this.

If chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery is not a viable option – usually due to the physical condition of the patient – routine tests & pancreatic cancer symptoms will take place more regularly, to monitor the advancement of the cancer and to adjust any medication required for pain management.  Also, pancreatic cancer will generally block the bowels and the gall bladder, which needs to be monitored.  Patients are often offered surgery to have a tube inserted that temporarily will be able to clear these blockages.

One thing to remember is that patients often become very nervous before routine tests & pancreatic cancer symptoms.  They are often waiting for further bad news.  As routine tests generally take place every three months or so, patients often find they have just been able to find a place in their lives for the cancer as it is, and are worried that the routine test will overthrow the status quo they have been able to build for themselves.  This is one of the many reasons why counselling is very important for those who suffer from pancreatic cancer, as well as for their families.

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