NICE guideline 3: Working out how far pancreatic cancer has spread

NICE guidelines for how doctors should work out if pancreatic cancer has spread and how far. This is called staging.

3.1 If you have recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but haven’t already had a CT scan, you should be offered one. The scan should include the chest, abdomen (tummy) and pelvis (area below the belly button).

3.2 If you have localised pancreatic cancer and will be having surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, you should be offered a FDG-PET/CT scan.

The FDG-PET/CT scan helps to confirm whether it is possible to remove the cancer.

3.3 If the doctors need more information to decide on your care, they should consider one or more of the following:

  • an MRI scan to check if the cancer has spread to the liver
  • an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) to help work out the stage of the cancer
  • a laparoscopy if surgery is a possibility, but there is a chance the cancer may have spread.

Read more about these tests.

Published: August 2018

Review date: August 2023