The value of diagnostic aids in detecting pancreas cancer.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

By contract with the National Cancer Institute, the accuracy of diagnostic techniques was assessed in 184 patients suspected of having pancreas cancer. Of 138 patients who were operated upon, 89 were found to have pancreas duct cancer, 30 had cancer of a different site of origin in the head of the pancreas region and in 19 there was no evidence of cancer at operation. All of the 46 patients who were not operated upon, 13 proven to have cancer and 33 patients discharged as free of cancer, were followed in our clinic. The majority of our patients presented with signs and symptoms of biliary obstruction. Computerized transaxial tomography (CTT) gave a "correct" diagnosis in 31 of 33 patients (94%) with proven cancer, there were 2 patients with a false negative report and a false positive diagnosis occurred in 8 of 20 patients (40%) without cancer. Celiac angiography (CA) gave a correct diagnosis in 78 of 94 patients (83%) with cancer, a false negative in 17%, and a false positive in 32%. 76Selenomethionine pancreas scan correctly diagnosed 27 of 36 patients (75%) with cancer, gave a false negative in 25% and a false positive in 31%. Ultrasonography gave a correct diagnosis in 18 of 27 patients with cancer (67%), a false negative in 33% and a false positive in 28%. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography diagnosed correctly 8 of 11 cases (73%) of cancer, there were false negative diagnoses in 3 cases (27%) and false positives in 3 of 14 patients (21%). Duodenal aspiration techniques gave a very low percentage of correct diagnoses. Chronic pancreatitis most commonly gave rise to a false positive diagnosis. Serum alkaline phosphatase was elevated in 82% of patients, gave 18% false negatives and 33% false positives. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was elevated (greater than 2.5 ng/ml) in most of the pancreas cancer patients but also in patients with other cancers and with non-cancerous diseases. In our hands, CTT, CA, alkaline phosphatase, 75Se-methionine and ultrasonography, in descending order, have given the highest percentage of correct diagnoses but false positive and false negative diagnoses prevented any single test from being conclusive.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Fitzgerald, PJ; Fortner, JG; Watson, RC; Schwartz, MK; Sherlock, P; Benua, RS; Cubilla, AL; Schottenfeld, D; Miller, D; Winawer, SJ; Lightdale, CJ; Leidner, SD; Nisselbaum, JS; Menendez-Botet, CJ; Poleski, MH

Published Date

  • March 1, 1978

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 868 - 879

PubMed ID

  • 638974

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0008-543X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/1097-0142(197803)41:3<868::aid-cncr2820410314>;2-0


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States