is necessary to gain additional information about the characteristics of the mass (ie., where it is located, size, shape, presence of other massess or abnormalities). Often after an MRI a patient will need to undergo a biopsy
of the mass, which can be performed with a special endoscopy
procedure, with ct guidance, or, rarely, with invasive surgery. The results of these tests will determine the next course of action. If the mass appears malignant or cancerous but it hasn't spread, surgery will probably be recommended to remove the mass and a portion of surrounding pancreas and sometimes other organs. Unfortunately, 50% of pancreatic cancer
is discovered after it has spread to other organs. In this situation, chemotherapy
can be done to extend survival, but rarely cures the disease.
Sometimes pancreatic masses are not the dreaded pancreatic adenocarcinoma, but other, less aggresive tumors, such as neuroendocrine tumors (masses of hormone
-producing cells), lymphoma
), or even mis-reads on the original ct. It may seem like a lot of tests, but the pancreas is a tricky organ and we must do our due diligence to fully characterize the mass prior to recommending any course of action.