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What does a pancreatic mass diagnosis mean?

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A doctor may diagnose a patient with a pancreatic mass after detecting a lump in the upper abdominal area, which is where the pancreas is located, notes WebMD. A mass is a term used to describe an abnormal growth in the body, such as a lump or tumor.

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Pancreatic masses are often undetectable as they grow. By the time they are large enough to detect and cause symptoms, the mass has typically started to grow outside of the pancreas, explains WebMD. The exact symptoms a person experiences often depend on the location of the mass within the organ. If the mass is cancerous, common symptoms include abdominal pain, back pain, weight loss, dark urine and jaundice. Nausea and vomiting are also symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

When a doctor detects a pancreatic mass in a person experiencing these symptoms, he often orders imaging and lab tests and reviews them thoroughly before making an official diagnosis, states WebMD. Masses found in the body are not always cancerous, according to MedlinePlus. When they are cancerous, they are referred to as malignant tumors, and noncancerous masses are called benign tumors. A biopsy is the test used to determine if a mass is malignant or benign. CT and MRI scans are used to determine the exact location of a mass and the extent to which it has spread.

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