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 Survival Rate For Pancreatic Cancer
Cancer survival rates are usually discussed in terms of 5-year relative survival, which refers to the proportion of patients still alive five years after diagnosis. Keep in mind that statistics like these are based on large groups of people and cannot predict what might happen with an individual patient.
In the United States, national data shows that 9.3% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are alive after five years. Pancreatic cancer survival remains poor due to a number of factors, some of which include the lack of a reliable screening test for the general population and a high number of people with late-stage disease at diagnosis.
In addition, survival differs dramatically depending on the type of pancreatic cancer. For example, survival for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors is significantly better than pancreatic ductal adenosarcoma. Recent treatment advances have led to increased survival when all treatment options including clinical trials are properly considered.
Is Pancreatic Cancer Curable
Increasing pancreatic cancer survival is the goal of medical researchers around the world. Pancreatic cancer, particularly the exocrine kind, is a life-threatening cancer, with a five-year survival rate of 8 percent.
When this cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, when malignant cells have not yet spread and the tumor can be removed surgically, the five-year survival rate is 32 percent. Roughly 1 in 10 patients are diagnosed at this stage.
If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs, the five-year survival rate is 12 percent.
A little more than half of all patients receive their diagnosis when the cancer has already metastasized to a distant part of the body.
Experts emphasize that these numbers are only averages and that some people live a lot longer than these statistics suggest. Age, overall health, and a persons individual response to treatment can all affect pancreatic cancer life expectancy.
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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.
How Is Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosed
Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed with a patient history and physical exam, along with tests such as:
- Multiphase CT scan or a pancreatic protocol CT scan
- CT-guided needle biopsy
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How Is The Stage Determined
The staging system used most often for pancreatic cancer is the AJCC TNM system, which is based on 3 key pieces of information:
- The extent of the tumor : How large is the tumor and has it grown outside the pancreas into nearby blood vessels?
- The spread to nearby lymph nodes: Has the cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes? If so, how many of the lymph nodes have cancer?
- The spread to distant sites : Has the cancer spread to distant lymph nodes or distant organs such as the liver, peritoneum , lungs or bones?
The system described below is the most recent AJCC system, effective January 2018. It is used to stage most pancreatic cancers except for well-differentiated pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors , which have their own staging system.
Numbers or letters after T, N, and M provide more details about each of these factors. Higher numbers mean the cancer is more advanced. Once a persons T, N, and M categories have been determined, this information is combined in a process called stage grouping to assign an overall stage.
Cancer staging can be complex. If you have any questions about your stage, please ask your doctor to explain it to you in a way you understand.
Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer
This type of pancreatic cancer has grown into nearby tissues, organs or a major blood vessel. Although it may be possible to remove the tumor, surgeons may not be able to extract all of the cancer via surgery. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumor, so it may be surgically removed.
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What You Can Do
If youve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, there may not be much you can do to alter outcome based solely on lifestyle changes. However, eat a healthy diet and keep active if you can. It is possible that these types of changes can improve general health and performance status, which can lead to better outcomes, not to mention a better quality of life.
If youre looking to prevent pancreatic cancer , its always a good time to quit smoking . After 10 years, your pancreatic cancer risk will be the same as a non-smoker. Sadly, if youve already got a diagnosis, theres no evidence that quitting smoking actually increases survival times, though it would likely make you feel better.
Losing weight might also sound like a good idea, and it would be if youre trying to prevent pancreatic cancer, diabetes, and other health problems. But if youre already diagnosed, its not wise to embark on a weight-loss program while undergoing chemotherapy.
What you can do is make sure youre eating the right foods and you have the right medications to help you digest food. Pancreatic cancer patients often need to be prescribed digestive enzymes to help with digestion.
Before embarking on any lifestyle intervention, speak with your oncologist.
Survival In Overall Stages Iii And Iiiiv Pacs With Microscopic Confirmation
Considering the relatively high proportions of non-microscopically confirmed overall PaC patients, we conducted sensitivity analyses by limiting the patients with overall stages III and IIIIV cancer to those with microscopic confirmation . Microscopically confirmed patients with stages III and IIIIV cancer generally had higher survival especially in those 70 years old and within 24 months after diagnosis, in all participating countries except Belgium, where microscopic confirmation rates were high and where survival remained very similar. The 3-year survival rates remained mostly similar to those of the main analyses, and were 2134% , 1425% , and 1214% in stages III PaC, and 25% , 12% , and 1%1% in stages IIIIV cancer.
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How Are Survival Rates Determined
In the United States, cancer survival rates are calculated with data collected by the National Cancer Institutes Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program. SEER collects data on all types of cancers from different geographical locations and sources throughout the country. While it is not yet feasible to obtain data for every single patient in the U.S., SEER data covers large proportions of the countrys population and can be statistically analyzed to make reasonably accurate estimates of overall cancer survival rates.
The SEER program began collecting cancer data in 1973 in seven cancer registriessystems for collecting and managing cancer datarepresenting five states and two metropolitan areas. Since then, more registries representing different geographical locations have been added, and to date, 21 registries have collected cancer data through SEER. Different databases represent groups of these registries in different combinations used to analyze survival data and other statistics.
Sometimes survival rates vary slightly based on the SEER database used. For example, pancreatic cancer five-year survival is reported to be 10% when using the SEER 9 database which contains 9 registries and represents about 9% of the U.S. population, but it is reported to be 9% when using SEER 18, which contains 18 registries and represents about 28% of the population.
Moffitt Cancer Centers Approach To Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
Within Moffitt Cancer Centers Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, our pancreatic cancer patients not only have access to some of the best surgeons in the country but also benefit from the latest treatment options, a wide range of clinical trials and compassionate support, all of which are provided in a single, convenient location. Moffitt is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center based in Florida, and we remain positioned firmly at the forefront of cancer research, with survival rates that exceed national averages.
If you have questions about the pancreatic cancer survival rate, call Moffitt Cancer Center at or submit a new patient registration form online. You are a top priority for a cancer center that delivers nationally ranked care in new and transformative ways, and you can connect with one of our cancer experts within a day.
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Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates
Pancreatic cancer survival rates are based on groups, but you are an individualand every patients situation is unique. The National Cancer Institutes Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program tracks five-year survival rates for all types of cancer based on data from previous patients and sometimes older treatments.
Based on people diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2011 and 2017, SEER data shows:
- Localized prostate cancer that is contained within the pancreas has a five-year relative survival rate of 41.6 percent.
- Regional cancer that has spread from the pancreas into nearby parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, has a five-year relative survival rate of 14.4 percent.
- Distant cancer that has spread to farther parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs, has a five-year relative survival rate of 3 percent.
- The overall five-year relative survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 10.8 percent.
Its important to remember that survival rates are constantly improving, so patients diagnosed now typically have better outcomes than those diagnosed in the past.
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.
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What Is The Outlook For 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.
What Is A 5
A relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of pancreatic cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of pancreatic cancer is 50%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 50% as likely as people who dont have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
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Stages Of Pancreatic Cancer
The cancer has spread to distant sites such as the liver, peritoneum , lungs or bones . It can be any size and might or might not have spread to nearby lymph nodes .
* The following additional categories are not listed on the table above:
- TX: Main tumor cannot be assessed due to lack of information.
- T0: No evidence of a primary tumor.
- NX: Regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed due to lack of information.
Factors That Influence Survival
Cancer registries base five-year survival rates on everyone with the diagnosisregardless of age, health, or cancer type. Any one patients actual risk of getting pancreatic cancer, as well as their survival after treatment, will be dictated by other factors. Some of those factors can be changed, while others cant.
- Age: Older patients fare worse than younger patients.
- Race:The pancreatic cancer rate is considerably higher for Black people than for any other race.
- Cancer types: Different cells in the pancreas give rise to tumors that react differently to treatments. These include neuroendocrine tumors, small cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and primary pancreatic lymphoma.
- Smoking:Tobacco use is a risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer. If no one smoked, there would be 30% fewer pancreatic cancers.
- Alcohol:Heavy drinkers have a worse prognosis than those who dont drink or drink less.
- Obesity: Excess weight before the age of 50 is correlated with increased pancreatic cancer risk.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes have worse survival when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
- Performance status:This measure of a patients ability to perform daily tasks is one of the best indicators of prognosis. The more trouble everyday tasks are, the worse off the patient is.
- Surgery:If the doctor can cut the whole tumor out, the patient has a much better outlook.
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Survival Rates By Stage
If youve been diagnosed and your stage has been determined, you may be curious about your outlook. An outlook is based on information compiled from people who have a similar cancer.
Although theyre useful, survival statistics arent definitive. Make sure you discuss your individual outlook with your doctor so you can better understand what it means for you.
Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate
The pancreatic cancer survival rate continues to improve as research leads to new and better ways to diagnose and treat the condition. However, when discussing the survival rate, its important to remember that it is nothing more than a statistic. Every patient is unique and every cancer is different. A statistic can only describe what happened retrospectively in a very large groupit does not take into account the advances in cancer care that are being made every single day, nor can it predict the outcome in any individual situation. In fact, some patients live much longer than the amount of time that would be anticipated based on the survival rate alone.
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How Does Survival Rate Depend On Stage At Diagnosis
Fiveyear pancreatic cancer relative survival rates are 37% for patients with localized disease , 12% for patients with regional disease , and 3% for those with distant pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is most often diagnosed at an advanced stage 53% of patients are diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, whereas only 10% of patients are diagnosed at the early stage when surgery is possible. Because the majority of patients are diagnosed at stage 4, which has the lowest survival rate, the overall survival rate for all stages is 9%lower than the average survival rate of all the stages.
How Common Is 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.
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Where Does Pancreatic Cancer Metastasize To
Metastatic cancer refers to the process of cancerous cells spreading from their site of origin to another area of the body. No matter where in the body it spreads to, the cancer will always be classified as the original cancer type. Pancreatic cancer most commonly metastasizes to the:
- Celiac plexus, a bundle of nerves located in the abdomen
- Portal vein, which carries blood from the liver to the digestive organs
- Ligament of Treitz, a muscle that wraps around the small intestine
Pancreatic Cancer Survival By Age
Five-year survival for pancreatic cancer is highest in the youngest men and women and decreases with increasing age. Five-year net survival in men ranges from 17% in 15-49 year-olds to 2% in 80-99 year-olds for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in England during 2009-2013. In women, five-year survival ranges from 26% to 2% in the same age groups. Five-year survival is significantly higher in women compared with men in the 15-49 age group.
Pancreatic Cancer , Five-Year Net Survival by Age, England, 2009-2013
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Survival Rates For Pancreatic Cancer
Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time after they were diagnosed. They cant tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.
Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often 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. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Your doctor is familiar with your situation ask how these numbers may apply to you.