Radiology of pancreatic adenocarcinoma: current status of imaging

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Jan;23(1):23-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2007.05117.x.


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is one of the leading causes of cancer death in the West, with a poor overall 5-year survival rate of only 4%. Late clinical presentation with an advanced disease results in a low rate of surgical intervention. Tumor serum marker CA 19-9 is sensitive, although not specific for the diagnosis of adenocarcinomas of the pancreas. The treatment approach is based on whether the tumor is resectable or non-resectable at presentation. Therefore, imaging plays a crucial role in the management of this disease. Many modalities are available to image the pancreas. They include non-invasive techniques, like ultrasound, contrast-enhanced multidetector computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and integrated positron emission tomography/computed tomography, and invasive techniques, like endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and endoscopic ultrasound. Each of these modalities has its peculiar strengths and weaknesses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Biopsy
  • Endosonography
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Postoperative Period
  • Preoperative Care
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed