A study looking at PET-CT scans to diagnose cancer of the pancreas (PET PANC)

Cancer type:

Pancreatic cancer





This study was to see if a type of body scan called a PET-CT scan improved the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

It was open for people to join between 2011 and 2013. Researchers reported the results in 2018.

More about this trial

There are several tests and scans to diagnose cancer of the pancreas. It is important that these are as accurate as possible. This is because the results will affect treatment and possibly the outcomes of that treatment.
Doctors already use PET-CT scans across the health service. But when researchers did this study they didn’t know how useful they would be in helping to diagnose pancreatic cancer.
In this study, everyone had:
  • routine tests including a CT scan Open a glossary item, MRI scan Open a glossary item   and a camera test (an endoscopy
  • a PET-CT scan 
The main aim of this study was to work out if having a PET-CT could improve diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Summary of results

This study suggested that a PET-CT with routine tests diagnosed suspected pancreatic cancer more accurately. 
589 people with suspected pancreatic cancer took part.
The researchers found that adding a PET-CT scan improved the accuracy of standard tests. 
  • In 56 people it was more accurate in working out where the cancer had spread to (this is called staging Open a glossary item)
  • It influenced treatment in 250 people (45%)
  • It showed that 58 people (20%) didn’t need surgery
It didn’t work as well for people diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis or other pancreatic tumours that weren’t cancer. 
The researchers looked at how much the PET-CT scans cost. They thought that it would be cost effective to have the scans on the NHS. Especially for the group of people who might need surgery. 
This study suggested that adding a PET-CT scan improved the diagnosis of suspected pancreatic cancer. It influenced treatment in just under half of the people. And correctly staged the cancer in more people than using standard tests alone.  
Where do these results come from 
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal.  The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Paula Ghaneh

Supported by

NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital NHS Trust
University of Liverpool

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

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