Investigating Symptoms

Pancreatic Cancer Action
Patient Information Booklets

What is Pancreatic cancer and how is it diagnosed?

This booklet for patients and carers describes pancreatic cancer, its causes and symptoms. It gives detailed information on the diagnostic tests used and the stages of pancreatic cancer. It includes a section on what to ask your doctor, where to go for further information and a glossary to explain many of the terms used.

Pancreatic Cancer Action
Patient Information Booklets

Control the symptoms of pancreatic cancer

This booklet covers the different procedures used to control pancreatic cancer symptoms with practical information about your hospital visit and returning home. Includes a section about second opinions, clinical trials and questions to ask your doctor and a glossary to explain some of the terms used.

Investigating pancreatic cancer can be a complex process.

If you are concerned about your symptoms, it may be helpful for you and your GP to track your symptoms using a symptom diary.

When your GP examines you, they may look for jaundice (yellowing of the skin), feel your tummy and send blood or urine samples to be tested. If your symptoms include abdominal (tummy) pain, weight loss and jaundice together, then you should be referred to hospital urgently. This does not mean that you definitely have pancreatic cancer, it just means that your symptoms need investigation quickly.

pancreatic cancer symptoms
symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Testing for pancreatic cancer

Once referred to the hospital, you may meet several healthcare professionals. You maybe asked many questions, including your history and be sent for more tests. This helps to decide what tests you may need. Often, people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed after visiting an accident and emergency department. This may be because your symptoms have worsened quickly or have started suddenly. Whether you are investigated for pancreatic cancer through a GP referral or the hospital, the diagnosis is similar. You will be referred to a gastroenterologist or another specialist to carry out tests and try and find out what is causing your symptoms.

Click here for diagnosis investigations in more detail.

Waiting for results

Waiting for test results can be a difficult time for both you and your loved ones. If you find that you need support, please click here.

If you do receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, then you will likely need to have more tests to find out as much as possible about the tumour. They will use these test results to figure out the stage of the tumour and possible treatments. These will be a multidisciplinary team made up of doctors, nurses and other health professionals in this time who can help you emotionally as well as physically, so feel free to ask them all the questions you have.

Pancreatic Cancer Action publishes patient information booklets about pancreatic cancer and the treatment at different stages. This information will help you to understand your diagnosis, and what happens next.

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Information Product № Published 08/12/2022
Last Updated 08/12/2022 Next Review Due 08/12/2025