A biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of pancreatic tissue is removed (with a needle or during surgery) for examination under a microscope.
A biopsy can confirmthat you have cancer. It can also let your doctor know what kind of pancreatic cancer you have. The biopsy may be done as a separate procedure, during another test, or during surgery to remove the pancreas. A biopsy is usually done in one of three ways.
Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) biopsy
The doctor uses a CT scan or endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) to locate the tumor. Then the doctor inserts a long, thin needle through your skin and into the tumor. Cells are removed through the needle.
This biopsy may be done during a procedure called an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) test. A long, thin tube called an endoscope is inserted through the mouth into the first part of the small intestine. The doctor then places a tiny brush through the endoscope and into your pancreatic or bile ducts. The brush rubs off some cells for testing.
A surgeon makes a small cut on your abdomen to insert a thin tube with a light and a tiny video camera on the end. It lets your doctor see the pancreas and nearby areas. Your surgeon may make other small cuts to insert other tools to remove cells for testing. Learn more about laparoscopy.
Once the biopsy is done, a pathologist examines tissue samples under a microscope to check for cancer cells. It usually takes a few days for the results of your biopsy to come back.
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