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ASGE and The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Partner to Raise Awareness About Pancreatic Cancer
Date:11/24/2008

lock the flow of these substances into the small intestine. This can cause the skin and eyes to turn yellow (jaundice) and the stool to turn pale. It can also cause pain, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and itchy skin. The symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be confused with those of benign diseases such as arthritis (back pain), gallstones (jaundice) or chronic pancreatitis (pain, diarrhea, weight loss). Unfortunately, by the time most patients develop symptoms, the cancer is usually advanced and difficult to treat.

A variety of tests are used to detect and understand the extent or stage of the disease. It is important to detect pancreatic cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage. Precise staging helps determine what treatment course is best and what alternatives (such as participation in a clinical trial) might be appropriate.

After a physical examination and some basic blood tests, most patients get scanned with a CT (computerized tomography) or "CAT" scan. CT scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) provide a detailed view of the pancreas and neighboring organs. A very important test, usually performed after a CT or MRI scan, is endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). EUS allows specially trained doctors known as endoscopists to obtain highly detailed pictures of the pancreas and to get a biopsy of any abnormalities seen. This type of biopsy is known as fine needle aspiration, or FNA. This technique uses a thin, flexible camera (combined with a tiny ultrasound device) that is passed gently through the mouth and into the stomach.

A recent study in GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the scientific journal of the ASGE, showed that EUS and EUS-FNA is 99.1 percent accurate in diagnosing pancreatic neoplasms (abnormal growths or tumors) in patients who were referred for endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) because of CT and/or MRI reports of two common, though somewhat ambiguous findings - enlargement of head of
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SOURCE American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
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