Biopsy for Pancreatic Cancer
During a biopsy, a sample of tissue from the tumor is removed and looked at under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells. There are several types of biopsies that might be done. In the past, a biopsy was often done as part of surgery. Now, fine needle aspiration biopsy is most often used.
Most common methods of obtaining a biopsy for pancreatic cancer are:
- Percutaneous needle biopsy: Under imaging guidance, a radiologist inserts a needle into the mass, capturing some tissue. This procedure is also called a fine needle aspiration (FNA).
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): A flexible tube with a camera and other tools on its end (endoscope) is advanced from the mouth to the small intestine, near the pancreas. ERCP can collect images from the area, as well as take a small biopsy with a brush.
- Endoscopic ultrasound: Similar to ERCP, an endoscope is advanced near the pancreas. An ultrasound probe on the endoscope locates the mass, and a needle on the endoscope plucks some tissue from the mass.
- Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that uses several small incisions. Using laparoscopy, a surgeon can collect tissue for biopsy, as well as see inside the abdomen to determine if pancreatic cancer has spread.
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