How Quickly Can You Die From Pancreatic Cancer


How Common Is Pancreatic Cancer

6 Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer

The American Cancer Societys estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States for 2022 are:

  • About 62,210 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • About 49,830 people will die of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US and about 7% of all cancer deaths.

It is slightly more common in men than in women.

What Can Patients Do To Improve Their Chances

Pancreatic cancer patients who participate in clinical research have better outcomes. Seeing pancreatic cancer specialists, including healthcare professionals who focus on symptom management and supportive care also improves outcomes. And, patients who receive treatment based on their biology can live longer.

For all stages, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network strongly recommends:

  • Clinical trials at diagnosis and during every treatment decision
  • Genetic testing for inherited mutations as soon as possible after diagnosis and biomarker testing of tumor tissue to help determine the best treatment options
  • Getting an opinion from a specialist, a physician who diagnoses and treats a high volume of pancreatic cancer patients
  • Symptom management and supportive care, provided early in your diagnosis as well as during and after treatment

Contact PanCAN Patient Services to learn more about these options.

Emotional And Spiritual Changes

Everyone will feel different emotions when they are dying. A lot depends on:

  • the type of person they are
  • how much support they have
  • their religious and spiritual beliefs
  • the experiences they have had in life

Someone dying in their 20s is likely to feel very differently from someone who is 80. And someone leaving behind young children will have different worries from someone whose children are grown up and can take care of themselves.

They might begin to let go as death gets closer and seem more at peace with things. Others might become very anxious, fearful or angry. Some people could appear to withdraw, even from the people they love and care about. But this doesnt mean that they dont care anymore.

These events are all very normal and are a natural part of dying.

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Other Signs And Symptoms

Other signs and symptoms of pancreatitis include low blood pressure , rapid heart rate , presence of degraded blood in the stool , shortness of breath , excessive sweating, jaundice, and listlessness. These signs and symptoms are not present in all cases of pancreatitis. Some of these may be present in acute pancreatitis, whereas others may occur in cases of chronic pancreatitis.

The presence of the above mentioned signs and symptoms should alert one to the possibility of pancreatitis, especially when seen in people who are either alcoholics or have abdominal injury or gallstones.

What Are The Types Of Pancreatic Cancer

10 Warning Signs of Pancreatic Cancer You Need to Know!

There are two types of tumors that grow in the pancreas: exocrine or neuroendocrine tumors. About 93% of all pancreatic tumors are exocrine tumors, and the most common kind of pancreatic cancer is called adenocarcinoma. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is what people usually mean when they say they have pancreatic cancer. The most common type begins in the ducts of the pancreas and is called ductal adenocarcinoma.

The rest of the pancreatic tumors about 7% of the total are neuroendocrine tumors , also called pancreatic NETs , an islet cell tumor or islet cell carcinoma. Some NETs produce excessive hormones. They may be called names based on the type of hormone the cell makes for instance, insulinoma would be a tumor in a cell that makes insulin.

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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.

Tips For Managing End

As a family caregiver, there is actually quite a bit you can do to help your loved one manage the signs and symptoms of end-of-life pancreatic cancer. For instance, if the patient is experiencing pain, anxiety, or restlessness, you can help by administering medicine that can alleviate some of this discomfort. You can also help by being present for your loved one and being there for them should they have questions or simply want to talk. Sometimes, you just being there is enough.

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Living As A Pancreatic Cancer Survivor

For some people with pancreatic cancer, treatment can remove or destroy the cancer. Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about cancer coming back. This is very common if youve had cancer.

For many people with pancreatic cancer, the cancer might never go away completely, or it might come back in another part of the body. These people may get regular treatments with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other therapies to help keep the cancer under control for as long as possible. Learning to live with cancer that does not go away can be difficult and very stressful.

Tender And Enlarged Abdomen

How Cancer Kills You: Swamp Gas

Acute pancreatitis is also characterized by abdominal distension or enlargement. Abdominal distention is also frequently accompanied by tenderness in the abdominal area. Pressing the abdominal area around the pancreas causes pain. Application of pressure to the abdominal area also results in contraction of the abdominal muscles . Bowel sounds may also get diminished. Chronic pancreatitis may not present with these symptoms.

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Why Treatment Is Challenging

Pancreatic cancer doesnt garner much treatment success for a number of reasons:

  • Its hard to detect early. The pancreas is deep within the body so there arent signs people can detect easily.
  • The disease spreads quickly to other nearby organs, including liver, intestines, and gall bladder.
  • A recurrence of the disease is likely.

Doctors Discover Why Pancreatic Cancer Kills So Quickly

Pancreatic cancer.

When news of this type of diagnosis is mentioned, those two words strike fear and dread in most every adult whether family member or friend who knows anything about cancer and survivability of its different forms.

That, of course, is because pancreatic cancer is the most aggressive, least treatable form of the disease and in a large majority of cases it reduces the victim’s life expectancy to a matter of months. In short, more than any other cancer, those two words carry the approximate weight of a death sentence.

Why is this type of cancer so ravenous and what makes it accelerate so rapidly? German researchers say they have discovered the answer to this question, and they’ve traced the cancer’s aggressiveness to a key factor in its earliest growth and composition.

The factor is called Zeb1, which “controls how cells migrate and survive in early embryonic development.” What that basically means is that Zeb1 acts like a switch, that, when on, powers the cells of the tumor to “quickly adapt to the changing conditions in their new environment,” according to a statement from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg announcing the finding. From there the cells metastasize quickly, producing deadly results.

In the rarer cases when pancreatic cancer is slower moving and relatively less aggressive, researchers believe that Zeb1 is switched off, producing “significantly lower metastatic capacity” and a longer period of survivability.

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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.

Pancreatic Cancer Is Usually Diagnosed After It Starts Causing Symptoms But Does This Mean It Necessarily Grows Faster Than Less Deadly Cancers

Pancreatic Cancer: Never Ignore these 6 Warning Symptoms

Time It Takes for Pancreatic Cancer to Go from Early to Deadly Stage

Contrary to common thought amongst patients and physicians, it takes several years for one cancerous cell in the pancreas to grow and multiply into a tumor, says Nadeem Baig, MD, a board certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Monmouth Gastroenterology, a division of Allied Digestive Health.

At an early stage, pancreatic cancers often do not cause any symptoms.

But it can quickly grow and spread to lymph nodes and other organs, at which point it will cause symptoms like stomach pains, weight loss, loss of appetite or jaundice.


Johns Hopkins researchers have found that pancreatic cancer notorious for its high mortality rate grows and spreads slower than what has historically been believed.

The paper says that many cases of pancreatic cancer have a long lag time before the disease is finally diagnosed.

The question then, is how long it takes for pancreatic cancer to grow from what would be considered a very early stage to the point when it begins causing symptoms.

There simply is no effective screening tool either via blood test or imaging.

When symptoms do start surfacing, most people dont initially wonder about pancreatic cancer. This causes delays during which the tumor will continue growing and possibly spreading.

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Confusion Restlessness Or Agitation

Sometimes a person may become confused, restless or agitated. Your loved one may not know where they are or who is with them. Or they may fidget, or want to move about even if theyre not able to. You may want to reassure them by reminding them of who you are and what is going on around them.

They may describe speaking to someone who has died or they may see things that arent there. If theyre not upset, its fine to talk to them about what they can see or hear. Some people may be frightened staying near them, gently touching them and reassuring them may help. A calm room with quiet music and familiar items like photos nearby can also help.

It can be upsetting for you if your family member is confused or agitated. There could be different reasons for why it is happening, so speak to the doctor or nurse. They will look for anything that is causing it, like pain, problems with their bladder or bowels, or issues with their medicines. They may recommend giving medicine to relax and calm them. Or they may suggest putting in a catheter . This will stop the bladder getting full and causing discomfort. If you are worried that your family member may be in pain, the doctor or nurse can help with this.

The End Can Be Sudden In Advanced Cancer

It was after shoveling winter snow that Brett began to cough. It was a dry cough, a morning cough, a smokers cough. It persisted, grew deeper. Several weeks later, there was a particularly harsh cough and in the sink was a crimson blob. Frightened, he called his doctor.

For 71 years old, Brett looked healthy. His lung exam was clear and the cough was gone. A case of bronchitis? The chest x-ray said otherwise. At the top of his left lung, almost touching his shoulder, was a white shadow. His doctor, now also worried, ordered a CT scan. The scan showed a solid mass, about 3 inches in size. Brett was referred to an oncologist.

A PET scan lit up brightly, as well as lymph nodes in the middle of his chest. The rest of his body was clear. A needle biopsy confirmed: Brett had lung cancer, and it was beginning to spread.

The thoracic surgeon could not operate. Brett started on several months of chemotherapy and radiation, which burned his throat, made it hard to swallow, so he lost weight. Toxic drugs sapped strength. Brett spent ten days in the hospital with a blood infection. He developed a clot in his left leg. Shingles erupted around his forehead, with needle-like pain deep into his left eye.

That summer went well. The family took a trip to Maine. Brett ate well, although his endurance lagged. He was mildly short of breath, the result of lost lung tissue and radiation damage.

Dr. Goldstein asked, What do you understand, in general, is happening to him?

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Palliative And End Of Life Care

Often, because the symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be vague, the disease is difficult to diagnose. Therefore, your tumour may have spread to nearby organs and blood vessels or to distant organs and it is not possible to operate and remove the disease. It is important to realise that this does not necessarily mean that you are dying immediately. It means instead that treatment will focus on your quality of life and managing your symptoms.

Be kept in the loop about our latest news on pancreatic cancer, the charity and our supporters.

Diet and Nutrition for Patients

This booklet contains information about how pancreatic cancer can affect your diet and nutrition. Provides information on managing dietary symptoms such as malabsorption, enzyme replacement, poor appetite, weight loss and managing diarrhoea. Contains a section about dietary supplements and information about diabetes and diet.

You may have told that you have advanced pancreatic cancer, this means that your cancer cannot be cured and will likely lead to your death.

If you or someone you care for is diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer it can be a frightening and bewildering time. This section of the website aims to describe the treatments and care you may receive with advanced pancreatic cancer. It explains palliative care and advanced care planning as well as maximising quality of life.

Open Access License / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

These 15 Beloved Celebs Died of Pancreatic Cancer

Open Access License: This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license , applicable to the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor. The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

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Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis & Survival

Each year more than 50,000 people in the United States are now diagnosed with pancreatic cancer . The prognosis is such that most of these people will have passed by the end of the first year. In the U.S., pancreatic cancer is 9th or 10th most commonly diagnosed cancer , but the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women.

Each year more than 50,000 people in the United States are now diagnosed with pancreatic cancer . The prognosis is such that most of these people will have passed by the end of the first year. In the U.S., pancreatic cancer is 9th or 10th most commonly diagnosed cancer , but the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women.

The prognosis of pancreatic cancer is a very tough, though the survival rates have been incrementally improving particularly over the past ten to fifteen years. It is important to realize that each person is individual each cancer is different. Statistics can only indicate what tends to happen in the aggregate, and not in the case of an individual person.

The median survival duration from the time of diagnosis until demise is arguably the worst of any of the cancers certainly of the major cancers. The median survival for untreated advanced pancreatic cancer is about 3 1/2 months with good treatment this increases to about eight months, though many will live much longer. We have encountered nine and eleven and twelve year survivors.

Doctor Visits And Tests

Your schedule of doctor visits, exams, and tests will depend on the original extent of your cancer, how it was treated, and other factors. Most often, for people with no signs of cancer remaining, many doctors recommend follow-up visits about every 3 months for the first couple of years after treatment and then about every 6 months for the next several years. Be sure to follow your doctors advice about follow-up tests.

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