Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis in NJ | Hackensack Meridian John Theurer Cancer Center   

Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis

Diagnosing Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer

Accurate diagnosis is essential to treatment planning for hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancer. This also requires skill in endoscopic approaches to view, diagnose and stage your tumor. Our expert team uses the most advanced technology with accurate and prompt results.

  • Advanced imaging includes MRI, CT and PET scans and X-rays.
  • Angiography is an X-ray taken after dye or contrast medium is injected into your arteries to show an outline of your blood vessels.
  • Biopsy is a procedure to remove a small portion of tissue for testing, sometimes with ultrasound or MRI imaging.
  • Blood tests are used to check your blood for certain markers that indicate cancer.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) combines endoscopy and sound waves, to improve the visibility of your pancreas and bile ducts and allow your doctor to take a biopsy.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound uses a special probe and high-energy sound waves to diagnose, stage and treat liver, pancreatic or hepatobiliary cancer.
  • Liver function tests are blood tests that indicate how well your liver is working.
  • 3D assessment of a tumor based on CT exams is used for diagnosis and treatment planning.

Changes in your DNA result in cancer. 10% of pancreatic cancer are inherited from your parents, or result over time from smoking, obesity, or age. This can also happen at random.

First degree relatives of someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer may have an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Inherited mutations can be deciphered through genetic testing.

One’s likelihood of pancreatic cancer may be increased due to:

  • Long standing diabetes
  • Chronic and hereditary pancreatitis
  • Smoking
  • Race: African American or Ashkenazi Jew
  • Over 60
  • Male
  • Diets high in red and processed meats
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Chemical and heavy metal exposure
  • Gum disease
Hackensack University Medical Center also offers a diagnostic and longitudinal followup pancreas cyst program. This is a specialized team dedicated to the most accurate and sensitive evaluations and management of pancreatic cysts, which are common and potentially precancerous pancreas lesions. We will work with both you and your regular physician to help you both come up with an evidence-based plan to manage these oftencomplex situations. This will utilize state of the art imaging, endoscopic ultrasound, and cyst genetic/molecular analysis.

Hackensack University Medical Center recently launched an innovative surveillance program that screens individuals who are at high-risk for pancreatic cancer. Our gastroenterologists are using the first blood test on the market dedicated to the early detection of familial or hereditary pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The blood test analyzes 9 biomarkers in serum to detect PDAC, which is the most common type ofpancreatic cancer. Biomarkers assess multiple cellular processes including metabolism, inflammation and tissue damage/repair, along with CA19-9. A sample's level of each biomarker is measured and then combined through an algorithm to determine a test result which can indicate whether a patient is "High-Risk Signature Present", "Negative for High-Risk Signature", or "Borderline".

Patients who are eligible will receive both an imaging and biomarker test to measure the immune system’s response to pancreatic disease in the blood. Early detection is crucial to treatment since symptoms typically only develop with late-stage disease. The majority of pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in late stages when treatments are less effective. Identifying patients who are at risk for developing the disease or genetic mutations and family history of pancreatic cancer can be critical for finding and treating it.

Pancreas cancer screening is critical in the following high-risk groups of patients over 18 and with:

  • BRCA mutation
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
  • Familial Atypical Multiple Mole Melanoma (FAMMM)
  • Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch Syndrome
  • Hereditary Pancreatitis
  • PALB2 mutation
  • Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome
  • Family history of pancreas cancer in two first-degree relatives
  • Pain, usually in the abdomen or back
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes or both) with or without itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Changes in stool
  • Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas)
  • Recent-onset diabetes

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, we encourage you to consult your doctor and reference pancreatic cancer.

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