Pancreatic cancer

Having tests

Pancreatic cancer

Having tests star_border Save this page

Not all symptoms are caused by cancer. Your GP or specialist will send you for tests to check what is causing your symptoms.

Your doctors should explain why you are having the tests and what they involve.

What you need to know

Reasons for tests

Your GP will examine you and send you for tests before you see a specialist. These initial tests are to see if your symptoms are caused by cancer or by something else.

If you do have a cancer, the specialist you see will probably send you for tests to find out more about it. This includes finding out the type of cells the cancer started in and whether it has spread.

Tests for pancreatic cancer

Tests you may have to work out where the cancer is, and whether it has spread, include:

  • blood test
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography
  • ultrasound 
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
  • gastroscopy
  • laparoscopy.

The doctor may take biopsies during some of these tests.

Biopsies for pancreatic cancer

A biopsy is when a doctor removes a small piece of tissue from the lump or area that might be cancer. A specialist doctor called a pathologist looks at the tissue under a microscope to see if it is a cancer.

There are several different types of biopsies. Most take place in a medical imaging department, hospital or special clinic. 

What to ask or talk about

Preparing for tests

Going for tests can make some people nervous, but knowing what to expect can help.

Your GP or specialist should tell you why you need each test and what it involves. Use our checklists to help you know what to ask.

Sometimes you need to contact the place where you are having the test for more information. This can include how to prepare for the test, how much it will cost and what you will get back from Medicare and your private health fund.

Ask how long it will take before you hear the results of the test.

checklist Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Next steps

Getting test results

It is normal to feel anxious when you are waiting for test results. 

Your GP or specialist should tell you when the results will be ready and how you will find out about them. Usually you need to make an appointment to get the results.

It is a good idea to take someone with you when you go for this appointment.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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