What are the NCCN diagnostic guidelines for pancreatic cancer?

Updated: Oct 02, 2020
  • Author: Tomislav Dragovich, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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The NCCN guidelines recommend that diagnostic management involve multidisciplinary consultation and be done at a high-volume center with appropriate high-quality imaging that includes specialized pancreatic CT or MRI. Additional recommendations include the following [2] :

  • Patients should undergo triphasic multidetector CT with thin-slice, cross-sectional imaging; the difference in contrast enhancement is highest during the second phase, so a triphasic approach enables a clear distinction between a hypodense lesion and the rest of the pancreas.

  • Contrast MRI is acceptable when CT is not possible, but MRI has not been shown to be more effective or accurate in diagnosing and staging pancreatic cancer; however, MRI can be a useful adjunct in diagnosing high-risk patients.

  • PET/CT is not a substitute for high-quality contrast-enhanced CT, but may be considered after CT to detect small metastatic deposits.

  • If no mass is evident in the pancreas on CT protocol imaging, EUS is recommended before other evaluation options.

  • EUS-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA) offers better safety and lower risk of peritoneal seeding than CT-guided FNA

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