Looking directly at a piece of a tumor under a microscope allows for a conclusive diagnosis of cancer.  To gather that piece of tumor, a biopsy is performed.

Your doctor may use any of the following biopsy methods, depending on your unique situation. 

Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)

FNA is the most common biopsy procedure due to its safety and the reliability of its results. There are two ways to perform an FNA biopsy of the pancreas, either through the skin (percutaneously) or Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)-guided. 

When the percutaneous approach is used, a local anesthetic is applied to the skin and a long thin needle is inserted through the abdominal wall and into the pancreas. 

In FNA with EUS guidance, live ultrasound images are used to guide needle placement through the endoscope directly into the suspicious mass. The EUS-guided approach is painless for the patient and produces the most accurate results. 

Brush Biopsy

In a brush biopsy, a small brush is inserted through the endoscope during an ERCP procedure and directly into your bile duct or pancreatic duct. Cells rub off onto the brush and can be examined using a microscope. 


Laparoscopy is a procedure in which a small camera attached to a thin, lighted tube is inserted directly into the abdominal cavity through a small incision. It is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. This means the patient is completely asleep during the procedure. 

By manipulating the camera, the doctor can directly view and biopsy the pancreas and its surrounding organs.