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 cancer cells are present.

There are several types of biopsies that may be carried out for pancreatic cancer listed below. Your medical team will explain which procedure you need.

The most common methods of obtaining a biopsy for pancreatic cancer are:

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

A flexible tube with a camera and other tools at 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 removes some tissue from the mass.


This 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.

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).

The information provided in this site, or through links to other websites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care and should not be relied upon as such. Read our disclaimer.