Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Education: Pancreatic & Cancers

Pancreatic Cancer

Symptoms, such as jaundice, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and/or enlarged abdominal organs may be caused by cancer or by other less serious conditions. To determine if the symptoms are associated with pancreatic cancer, a doctor will perform a physical examination that includes a complete medical history and blood tests, as well as one or more of the following tests:

  • Transabdominal Ultrasound—An imaging technique using sound waves and their echoes to produce a picture of the pancreas and other internal organs
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound—An imaging technique using a small, flexible tube with an ultrasound device at the tip, to produce detailed images of the pancreas and surrounding organs
  • Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT Scan)—An imaging technique using an X-ray machine linked to a computer to create a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body
  • Needle Biopsy—Removal of a small tissue sample, using a needle guided by a CT scan or endoscopic ultrasound, to check for cancer cells

If pancreatic cancer is detected, Sylvester physicians may use these and other tests to determine the stage or extent of the disease in order to plan the patient’s treatment. The stage is based on whether the disease has spread, and if so, to what parts of the body.

Liver Cancer

Some of the common symptoms of liver cancer include constant pain in the abdomen, swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice).

If symptoms and/or the results of the physical exam suggest liver cancer might be present, tests will likely be done. These might include imaging tests, lab tests, and other procedures.

  • Liver scan—A specialized radiology procedure used to examine the liver to identify certain conditions or to assess the function of the liver. A liver scan may also be used to follow the progress of treatment of certain conditions.
  • Ultrasound—Uses sound waves to look for masses in the liver.
  • Computed tomography (CT)—An x-ray procedure that produces detailed cross-sectional images of your body. This test is very useful in identifying many types of liver tumors. It can provide precise information about the size, shape, and position of any tumors in the liver or elsewhere in the abdomen.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)—Like CT scans, MRI scans provide detailed images of soft tissues in the body. MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays.
  • Angiography—An x-ray procedure for looking at blood vessels. Contrast medium, or dye, is injected into an artery before x-ray images are taken. The dye outlines the blood vessels on x-ray pictures. An angiography can be useful in showing the arteries that supply blood to a liver cancer.