Tests after diagnosis for pancreatic cancer

Doctor standing in front of a radiotherapy machine

You may have more tests after your diagnosis to find out:

  • How large is the cancer?
  • Where exactly is the cancer?
  • Has the cancer spread to any other parts of your body?

This is called staging. Staging tests for pancreatic cancer include:

MRI pancreas scan

An MRI scan that uses magnetic energy to build up a picture of the tissues inside your body. During the scan you will lie inside a tunnel-like machine.

CT scan of the pancreas / thorax / abdomen / pelvis

A type of X-ray that gives a detailed picture of the tissues inside your body.

Endoscopic ultrasound scan (EUS) and fine needle aspiration/biopsy (FNA)

A fine needle is put into your pancreas using an ultrasound scan to guide it to the right place. The needle takes a sample of the pancreas (biopsy).


Your doctor passes a thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light down your throat and through your stomach. Here they can look at the inside of your pancreas, bile ducts and small bowel and check for any abnormal cells or blockages. They can also inject dye into the tissues to show them up on an X-ray.

PTC (percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography)

Similar to an ERCP, it gives X-ray images of the pancreas/bile ducts and surrounding area.

MRCP scan

An MRI scan that shows up the tissues of the pancreatic duct, bile ducts and gallbladder in more detail. 

Staging is important as it helps your medical team decide on the best treatment for your cancer. 

For more information

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