Can You Survive Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer


What Is The Outlook For Pancreatic Cancer

Surviving Pancreatic Cancer

Over the past decade, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients increased from 6% to 11%.2 There is an urgent need to improve survival even more. But this increase shows that progress is being made. Those five percentage points mean that 11 people out of 100, instead of six people out of 100, will be alive five years after their pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is working toward better treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients and ways to find the disease earlier. We are determined to improve patient outcomes today and into the future. Contact PanCAN Patient Services for resources, support and information.

Stages Of Cancer Explained

According to, medical researchers created five specific stages of cancer to describe the progression of the disease. Stage 4 is the most advanced and most serious cancer diagnosis.

  • Stage 0: a small cancerous tumor that is easy to remove and has little to no chance of spreading.
  • Stage 1: an early-stage cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes, resulting in a good chance of a cure.
  • Stage 2: often consists of large tumors that are affecting nearby tissues.
  • Stage 3: consists of large tumors that likely have spread into the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4: advanced or metastatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, including other organs.

A doctor may initially diagnose cancer at any of these stages. Additionally, cancer initially diagnosed at an early stage could progress to an advanced stage if treatment options do not work.

Symptom And Side Effect Management

Learn how to control symptoms and side effects.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network would like to thank Kathleen Wagner and support from the Hamill Foundation and the Pickelner Fund for Pancreatic Cancer Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center for the illustrations on this page.

Information reviewed by PanCANs Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, who are experts in the field from such institutions as University of Pennsylvania, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center and more.

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How Is The Survival Rate Determined

For the five-year survival rate, SEER uses data from different areas throughout the country. When SEER was first developed, there were nine places that data were gathered from, making up the SEER-9 database.

SEERs database has grown to 18 regions now, called SEER-18. But, they continue to use the SEER-9 data as the benchmark to compare survival rate trends over time.

To get the five-year survival rate, numbers must be analyzed over a range of time. This means that the patients included in the analysis received treatment and care that may be different from today. Knowledge and treatment have improved in recent years.

There are many other ways to look at survival. Besides the five-year survival rate, people also measure:

  • Overall survival: the length of time from diagnosis to a patients death
  • Progression-free survival: how long a person stays on a treatment without their disease getting worse
  • Disease-free survival: the amount of time a person is believed to be cancer-free, also known as no evidence of disease

These other survival measurements are often used to judge success of clinical trials.

What Are The Risk Factors For Pancreatic Cancer

5 Year Survival Rate Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

The average lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 64. A risk factor is something that raises the chance that you will get a disease. There are risk factors that are a result of behavior and that can be changed. For pancreatic cancer, these types of risk factors include:

  • Smoking cigarettes, cigars and using other forms of tobacco.
  • Obesity is also a risk factor. Carrying weight around the waist is a risk factor even if you do not have obesity.
  • Having diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity. The new development of diabetes at an older age and in someone with a normal weight or body mass index could be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
  • Being exposed to chemicals used by dry cleaners and metal workers.
  • Having chronic pancreatitis, a permanent inflammation of the pancreas usually associated with smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol.

There are also risk factors that you cant change. These include:

  • Hereditary chronic pancreatitis due to gene changes passed from parent to child.
  • Hereditary syndromes with gene changes in genes such as BRCA genes passed from parent to child.
  • Being older than 45.
  • Being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

Your healthcare provider might suspect pancreatic cancer if you have certain symptoms or if youve recently developed diabetes or pancreatitis.

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What Causes Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is believed to be caused by genetic changes , however, the exact cause for these mutations is unknown. Risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer include:

  • This is one of the most common causes of pancreatic cancer
  • About 25% of pancreatic cancers are thought to be caused by cigarettesmoking
  • The risk of developing pancreatic cancer is about twice as high among smokers compared to those who have never smoked
  • Being overweight or obese
  • People with a body mass index of 30 or more are about 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer
  • Gaining weight as an adult
  • Carrying extra weight around the waistline even in people who are not overweight
  • Workplace exposure to certain chemicals such as those used in the dry cleaning and metal working industries
  • About two-thirds of patients are at least 65 years old
  • The average age at diagnosis is 70
  • Gender: men are slightly more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women
  • Race: African Americans are slightly more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than whites
  • Understanding The Nature Of Stage 4 Cancer

    A person with stage 4 cancer may not feel ready to face the likelihood of death, which causes them to be willing to try any kind of treatment, even with a small chance of success, according to the study.

    Sometimes, doctors do not speak in straightforward terms with patients about the limited chances of success in curing stage 4 cancer. Patients need to ask questions of doctors about the actual chances of recovery when facing stage 4 cancer. They also should ask about the benefits of hospice care, such as those outlined by the Mayo Clinic.

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    The Limitations Of Survival Rates

    Survival rates are estimates and are based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they cant predict what will happen in any particular persons case. They also dont take into account multiple factors that could play a role in survival such as age, overall health, and how well a person’s cancer responds to treatment.

    The Progression Of Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

    Veteran shares story of beating Stage 4 pancreatic cancer

    Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, in particular, is the stage of pancreatic cancer where the cancer has already spread to several distantly located places within the body. It may also affect organs that are close to one another. At this point, pancreatic cancer may affect the lungs and/or liver, in addition to the stomach, bowels and spleen, from the starting point at the pancreas.

    Patients with stage 4 pancreatic cancer are often classified into two groups, which both indicate how the pancreatic cancer has spread throughout the body.

    Group A Patients These patients often have pancreatic cancer thats spread to localized areas, such as nearby organs and blood vessels. This is often known as localized pancreatic cancer.

    Group B Patients These patients often have pancreatic cancer that had already spread to several distantly spaced organs within the body, in most cases, the lungs. This is often known as metastatic pancreatic cancer.

    Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is considered fatal, thanks to the very nature of the cancer spreading to adjacent organs. Many of the symptoms start once the pancreatic cancer starts spreading to the organs of the body.

    Common symptoms often include jaundice , abdominal pain and a loss of appetite/weight loss or vomiting .

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer

    Most people dont experience early signs of pancreatic cancer. As the disease progresses, however, people may notice:

    • Upper abdominal pain that may spread to the back.
    • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes .
    • New or worsening diabetes.
    • Nausea and vomiting

    Your healthcare provider might suspect pancreatic cancer if you have some symptoms and youve recently developed diabetes or pancreatitis a painful condition due to the inflammation of pancreas.

    Symptoms of pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer may be different than the traditional pancreatic cancer symptoms, such as jaundice or weight loss. This is because some PNETs overproduce hormones.

    How Ny1’s Ruschell Boone Fought Pancreatic Cancer And Won

    This year in America, some 56,770 people will be stricken with pancreatic cancer and 45,750 people will die from it.

    Pancreatic cancer, which affects a 6-inch organ near the stomach and is treated through surgery and chemotherapy, has made recent headlines for high-profile cases. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, as was Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys. News broke Friday that Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has the stage 2 form of the illness. It killed Apple visionary Steve Jobs in 2011.

    What are the symptoms and, as importantly, the prognosis for this disease?

    Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is hard to catch early, according to the ACS. The organ is too deep inside the body for doctors to feel any abnormalities, like a tumorous lump, during a routine checkup.

    Symptoms which include jaundice, greasy bowel movements, weight loss, belly pain, back pain, nausea and blood clots dont generally develop until the disease has progressed.

    There are five stages of pancreatic cancer: Stage 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4. Although its difficult to catch the cancer in its earlier stages, thats a patients best bet for survival: In those earlier days, people can be cured and tend to live longer, Daniel M. Labow, MD, chief of Mount Sinai Hospitals surgical oncology division, tells The Post.

    Although he says there are exceptions, most patients with a cancer this advanced succumb to the disease.

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    Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

    One reason that pancreatic cancer gets diagnosed late is that it can be easy to miss the signs. A person may not know that they have cancer because they do not feel sick. Even if they do have symptoms, they might not bother them much.

    The symptoms of pancreatic cancer usually do not start until the cancer cells have gotten into other organs. The intestines are often one of the first places cancer goes. It can also go to the liver, lungs, bones, and even the brain.

    Once cancer goes to other parts of the body, a person can start to feel very sick. They can also have serious medical conditions, such as:

    Potentially Curable If Caught Very Early

    Is Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Always Terminal

    Despite the overall poor prognosis and the fact that the disease is mostly incurable, pancreatic cancer has the potential to be curable if caught very early. Up to 10 percent of patients who receive an early diagnosis become disease-free after treatment. For patients who are diagnosed before the tumor grows much or spreads, the average pancreatic cancer survival time is 3 to 3.5 years.

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    Pancreatic Cancer Nutrition: 12 Pancreatic Diet Tips

    People diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer often find it difficult to maintain their weight and follow a healthy diet. The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen, behind the stomach near the small intestine, gallbladder and duodenum. It has an essential role to help convert the food we eat into fuel for the bodys cells. Food may not be digested properly if the pancreas is not functioning due to cancer.

    The pancreas has two main functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion of food and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar. Even if patients continue to eat and digest food normally, pancreatic cancer releases compounds into the bloodstream that break down muscle and fat, causing patients to lose weight and muscle mass, as well as feel fatigued.

    Dietitians work closely with your care team to help you maintain good nutrition and maximize your health. They can assess your needs and design a diet plan that best meets your needs, including supplementary insulin or pancreatic enzymes. Dietitians can also help you alter the consistency, fiber content or fat content of your diet to prevent you from becoming malnourished.

    How Long Do You Have To Live With Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

  • How Long Do You Have to Live with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer? Topic Guide
  • Life expectancy for pancreatic cancer is often expressed in 5-year survival rates, that is, how many people will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.

    Pancreatic cancer 5-year survival rates chart

    Pancreatic cancer stage
    Localized 37%
    Regional 12%
    Distant 3%

    The life expectancy for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is very low, estimated to be about three to five months. By stage 4, pancreatic cancer has spread to and damaged surrounding organs, which makes it difficult to treat.

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    Treatment And Survival Rates Of Stage Iv Pancreatic Cancer At Va Hospitals: A Nation

    Ibrahim Azar1, Gurjiwan Virk1, Saghi Esfandiarifard1, Ali Wazir1, Syed Mehdi2

    1Department of Internal Medicine, 2Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center , , USA

    Contributions: Conception and design: I Azar, S Mehdi, A Wazir Administrative support: S Mehdi Provision of study material or patients: None Collection and assembly of data: I Azar, G Virk, S Esfandiarifard Data analysis and interpretation: I Azar Manuscript writing: All authors Final approval of manuscript: All authors.

    Correspondence to:

    Background: Metastatic pancreatic cancer is associated with an extremely high mortality. Current NCCN guidelines recommend systemic therapy, as it is superior to best supportive care. Undertreatment of MPC continues to be an issue. Recent treatment and survival data of MPC in Veterans Affairs hospitals have not been published. The relationship between MPC treatment and survival and the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer accreditation in VA hospitals has not been studied.

    Methods: Nationwide data from the National Veterans Affairs Cancer Cube Registry was analyzed. In total, 6,775 patients were diagnosed with MPC between 2000 and 2014. CoC accreditation of each VA hospital was obtained using the ACS website.

    Treatment and survival of MPC have risen significantly in the past decade at VA hospitals. CoC accreditation is not associated with a change in treatment or survival rates.

    How Long Will I Live With Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

    With 3% chance, man celebrates surviving stage 4 pancreatic cancer for five years

    Stage 4 pancreatic cancer does not have many treatment options. Even with treatment, most people do not live for more than a year or two.

    Based on SEERs data, the five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with distant pancreatic cancer is 3%. That means 3% of people with metastatic pancreatic cancer are alive five years after they are diagnosed.

    The number changes based on age. People who are diagnosed when they are younger are more likely to live longer. For example, someone who is 50 years old when they are diagnosed with distant pancreatic adenocarcinoma has a 10.5% chance of surviving at least five more years.

    Here’s a table that shows the survival rates for PACs.

    Survival Rates for Distant Pancreatic Cancer, by Age

    PNET has an overall five-year survival rate of 51.3%.

    • The five-year survival rate for people with PNET that has not spread to other parts of the body is 93%.
    • If the tumor has spread to nearby tissue or the regional lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 77%.
    • If the tumor has spread to distant areas of the body, the survival rate is 25%.

    Survival rates depend on different factors. For example, if the tumor can be taken out with surgery, a person might be more likely to live longer.

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    Changing How I Thought

    Had that doctor said Lets try chemotherapy I would have done it and looked no further. But I was told nothing could be done. Being told nothing can be done was life-changing for me.

    I took a leave from my job and started researching. But the negativity increased when I went to a bookstore and looked up pancreatic cancer. Remember, the statistics were worse 20 years ago than they are today. I slammed the book shut and decided I was never going to read anything negative about pancreatic cancer or stage IV cancers of any type.

    I had spent most of my lifetime asking the question Why do some people manage or navigate more successfully through the worst circumstanceswhat do they bring to those situations? I decided to put into practice those characteristics, to do what I could to live happier and if possible longer. In the first shock of the prognosis, I asked How can I have the best death? Soon after, I turned my attention to those people who live longer than the odds or even survive. The hundreds of articles and research studies became the basis of my healing program.

    Pancreatic Cancer Diet Tips

    Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are treatments available for pancreatic cancer. Regardless of treatment type, pancreatic cancer takes a toll on the body and a persons ability to maintain a healthy diet and nutrition. Below are some tips patients with pancreatic cancer find helpful to optimize nutrition during and after treatment.

  • Monitor and maintain a healthy weight. It is normal to lose some weight after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and beginning treatment. Excessive weight loss and poor nutrition can cause a decrease in the bodys ability to fight infection and tolerate treatment. To help maintain a healthy weight:

  • Weigh yourself weekly.
  • Consult your care team and dietitian if you are losing more than 1 or 2 pounds a week. They can teach you ways to increase calorie and protein intake.
  • Avoid excessive weight loss, and seek help early with your care team to optimize nutrition.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink enough fluid during cancer treatment to prevent dehydration.

  • Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
  • To avoid feeling full at mealtime, drink fluids one hour before or after a meal.
  • Choose beverages that contain calories and nutrients.
  • Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol, which may lead to dehydration.
  • High-protein foods with every meal. Protein-rich foods help the body repair damaged cells and assist the immune system in recovering from illness. Lean proteins are easy to digest and should be included with each meal and snack.

  • Soy products/tofu
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