How Long Do You Survive With Pancreatic Cancer


Survival For Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer | Eric’s Story

Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. Your outlook is better if your cancer hasn’t spread and you can have surgery to remove it.

Survival depends on many factors. No one can tell you exactly how long you will live.

Below are general statistics based on large groups of people. Remember, they cant tell you what will happen in your individual case.

Survival Statistics For Pancreatic Cancer

Survival statistics for pancreatic cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular persons chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for pancreatic cancer and what they mean to you.

Mayo Clinic Minute: Pancreatic Cancer Is The Most Lethal

Pancreatic cancer can be a frightening diagnosis. Compared to most other cancers, survival rates are much lower and death often occurs at a more rapid pace. In this Mayo Clinic Minute, a leading expert in pancreatic cancer at Mayo Clinic explains more about the disease and potential future improvements in treating and screening for it.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg is in the downloads at the end of the post.Please courtesy: “Mayo Clinic News Network.” Read the script.

Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal cancer in the human body with overall five-year survival rates at just about 7 percent, despite all the advances over the past decades, says Dr. Santhi Swaroop Vege, director of the pancreatic diseases group at Mayo Clinic.

There are no telltale signs for pancreatic cancer, and symptoms like weight loss, abdominal pain, jaundice and appetite loss are nonspecific.

“That’s one of the biggest problems we face,” says Dr. Vege. “Usually, these people will have indigestion, acid reflux … before finally somebody thinks of doing a CT scan. And by that time, it’s already late.”

He says treatments can be any combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and endoscopic procedures.

“If it is localized to the pancreas and if it is not involving the major structures, then the best treatment, of course, is resection a big surgery,” says Dr. Vege.


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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.

    How Is The Survival Rate Determined

    Why Is Pancreatic Cancer So Hard to Treat?

    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.

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    Why Is Pancreatic Cancer So Deadly

    Compared to other cancers, pancreatic cancer is relatively rare. But it is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Only about 8.5% of patients with pancreatic cancer are alive five years after their diagnosis. This one of the lowest survival rates for any kind of cancer.

    There are three main reasons pancreatic cancer is so deadly, explains Conan Kinsey, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist who treats patients with pancreatic cancer at Huntsman Cancer Institute and University of Utah Health. First, its most often diagnosed late.

    The earlier pancreatic cancer is caught, the better chance a person has of surviving. But most patients dont have symptoms of pancreatic cancer in earlier stages. Only 10% of patients are diagnosed when the cancer is in just the pancreas and may be removed by surgery. It is often discovered after the cancer has spread, when patients have symptoms such as jaundice, pain, and weight loss. Currently, there is no way to screen for pancreatic cancer.

    The pancreas is also located in what Kinsey calls high-price real estate, or an important part of the body. The pancreas is surrounded by several blood vessels, which can make surgery tricky. The main parts of the gut are in that area as well.

    Questions To Ask Your Doctor Or Nurse

    • What are my treatment options?
    • How long do I have left to live?
    • How accurate is my prognosis?
    • Should I get a second opinion?
    • I dont want to know my prognosis, but can you tell me how my cancer will change?
    • What symptoms will I have? How can symptoms be managed?
    • What difference will it make to my quality of life if I decide to have chemotherapy? What about if I dont have chemotherapy?
    • Whats the benefit of having treatment, and are there any risks?
    • What are my options if I decide not to have chemotherapy or other treatments?
    • Is there anything I can do to help me live longer?
    • If I dont want to know my prognosis but my family do, can you speak to them in confidence?

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    Pancreatic Cancer Is A Very Isolating Disease With An Abysmally Low Survival Rate 85 Percent According To The National Cancer Institute Read Here To Know A Moving Story Of A Pancreatic Cancer Survivor

    Timely diagnosis and treatment is key to dealing with pancreatic cancer

    When my husband told me Alex Trebek was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, I felt as if he had told me one of our close friends was in mortal danger. We often watched “Jeopardy!” after dinner when our daughters were young, and now my teenager revels in the opportunity to beat me. His announcement devastated me, not only because I admire him but because it brought back all the feelings from my own diagnosis five years ago.

    One November day in 2013, I locked myself in my bathroom and started to sob, hoping my husband and daughters would not hear me. I was 44, recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in the midst of a grueling treatment regimen with an uncertain outcome.

    On that day, however, I was facing something far more frightening: my own mortality. Not unlike many newly diagnosed cancer patients, I was scared. I needed comfort from others who had been there. So I did what everybody does these days – I went online in search of survivors’ stories. I was momentarily buoyed when I found some – people full of life and hope – until I learned that all of them had since died.

    Yet in a few scant weeks, I went from running 100 miles at a time to using a walker to circle my hospital floor.

    The consensus was wrong. It was malignant, and I was numb.

    A few days after the surgery, I discovered how serious it was. One of the nurses remarked on the unusual patterns of stitches on my abdomen.

    Potentially Curable If Caught Very Early

    Surviving Pancreatic Cancer

    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.

    Pancreatic Cancer Metasised To Liver

    My husband is 56, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, on 1st June 2016 . We were told that it was inoperable and incurable but he would be given the option of chemo. He had 5 cycles of Folfirinox however a recent scan revealed that the chemo hadn’t worked and the tumours had increased in size. He was offered an alternative chemotherapy – Gemcitabine – and has had 3 treatments so far. He is extremely thin as he finds it very difficult to eat. He has some food – tends to be ice cream or sugary sweet desserts and he has two fortisip protein drinks each day.

    We have three children 17, 18 and 23 who each deal with the situation differently. We are very strong and remain positive however the question of ‘how long have we got?’ Is like a black cloud that just won’t go away. We try to do as much as we can but sometimes the pain is too bad and we lose days. The chemo doesn’t give him many side effects, his pain is the biggest problem.

    In the original consultation meeting, the oncologist gave a prognosis of 3-6 months of the first chemo worked, and it didn’t. We’re now in the 5th month and although my husband is fighting hard, the time line haunts me.

    Id love to hear from anyone going through the same journey.

    Thanks, Gill

    How Long Will I Live With Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

    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.

    Keeping Health Insurance And Copies Of Your Medical Records

    Even if youve finished treatment, its very important to keep health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of their cancer coming back, this could happen.

    At some point after your cancer treatment, you might find yourself seeing a new doctor who doesnt know about your medical history. Its important to keep copies of your medical records to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Learn more in Keeping Copies of Important Medical Records.

    Can You Survive Pancreatic Cancer That Has Spread To The Liver

    5 Warning Signs Your Pancreas Is In Trouble

    More than 50% of patients with pancreatic cancer have liver metastases at the time of diagnosis and is associated with a poor prognosis. For patients with resectable disease, surgery is the treatment of choice, and it has been moderately effective, with 5-year survival rates ranging from 20% to 25%.

    Where Do These Numbers Come From

    The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER* database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute , to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.

    The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for pancreatic cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages . Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:

    • Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the pancreas.
    • Regional: The cancer has spread from the pancreas to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
    • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as the lungs, liver or bones.

    If The Cancer Comes Back

    If your cancer does come back at some point, your treatment options will depend on the where the cancer is, what treatments youve had before, and your health. Treatment options might include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or some combination of these. See Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer, Based on Extent of the Cancer.

    For more general information on recurrence, see Understanding Recurrence.

    Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis And Survival

    Pancreatic cancer is unique to every patient, and it is not possible for anyone to estimate exactly how long you will live with the disease. Survival depends on your current health, any other conditions you have and your general level of fitness. It also depends on the stage of your cancer when it is diagnosed.

    What Is The Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer

    6 Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer

    Treatment for pancreatic cancer includes one or more of the following:

    • Surgery
    • Potentially curative surgery: used when tests suggest its possible to remove all the cancer
    • Whipple procedure : removes a cancer in the head of the pancreas.
    • Distal pancreatectomy: removes only the tail of the pancreas or the tail and a portion of the body of the pancreas, along with the spleen
    • Total pancreatectomy: removal of entire pancreas, as well as the gallbladder, part of the stomach and small intestine, and the spleen
  • Palliative surgery: used if the cancer is too widespread to be removed completely done to relieve symptoms or to prevent complications like a blocked bile duct or intestine
  • Stent placement to relieve a blocked bile duct
  • Ablation or embolization treatments
  • Ablation: used to destroy tumors, usually with extreme heat or cold
  • Works best for tumors no more than about 2 cm
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Ethanol ablation
  • Cryosurgery
  • Embolization
  • Arterial embolization
  • Chemoembolization (also known as trans-arterial chemoembolization or TACE
  • Radioembolization
  • Importance Of Cancer Staging

    Staging a cancer helps your doctor and your cancer care team understand how advanced the cancer is.

    Knowing the stage is important for selecting the best treatments and therapy options. It also plays a role in your outlook for the future.

    The for pancreatic cancer is the American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM system. It uses a scale of 0 to 4.

    The AJCC stages and substages are determined by key information:

    Cancers may also be described using one of the

    Help With Nutrition And Pain

    Pancreatic cancer often causes weight loss and weakness from poor nutrition. These symptoms might be caused by treatment or by the cancer itself. A team of doctors and nutritionists can work with you to provide nutritional supplements and information about your individual nutritional needs. This can help you keep up your weight and nutritional intake. Many patients need to take pancreatic enzymes in pill form to help digest food so that it can be absorbed. For serious nutrition problems, the doctor might need to put a feeding tube into the stomach to improve nutrition and energy levels. This is usually temporary. For more information and nutrition tips for during and after cancer treatment, see Nutrition for the Person With Cancer.

    There are many ways to control pain caused by pancreatic cancer. If you have pain, tell your cancer care team right away, so they can give you prompt and effective pain management..

    Data Sources And Outcomes

    The hospitals administrative database was used to identify eligible patients using the International Classification of Diseases Code C25.0 to C25.9 and who had a death registered on the database . Confirmatory data on further deaths were obtained through the state departments register of deaths. We captured basic demographic variables .

    Clinical electronic and written case records and the hospital chemotherapy drug administration database were subsequently examined to identify key indicators of aggressive cancer care in the last 30days of life which included: intravenous chemotherapy use, multiple emergency department presentations and acute hospital admission , or intensive care admission . We included chemotherapy administration in external hospitals if these data were available in the clinical records, as patients may have chosen to receive treatment elsewhere. We further determined if referral to the hospitals palliative care service had occurred, the interval between referral to palliative care and death, and the place of death. We choose to define early palliative care based on the duration of continuity of palliative care before death . Thus early and late PCR were defined as more than 90days and less than or equal to 90days before death respectively.

    What Do We Mean By Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis

    Can You Live Without A Pancreas Cancer

    When we look at pancreatic cancer prognosis and life expectancy, we usually focus on the five-year survival ratethe percentage of people still alive five years after their pancreatic cancer has been diagnosed.

    Why five years? We use five years as a benchmark because thats a good indicator that the cancer has responded to treatment.

    Keep in mind, these rates do not refer to people who survive ONLY five years. Some go on to live much longer than that.

    Also, since these numbers take five years to collect, they dont always reflect survival improvements due to advances in treatment.

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