What Is Survival Rate Of Pancreatic Cancer


Pancreatic Cancer Survival At Roswell Park

What is the Survival Rate of Pancreatic Cancer?

At Roswell Park, we compare our survival data with data collected nationally by the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program. The graphs below compare survival rates of pancreas cancer patients treated at Roswell Park with the survival rates for pancreas cancer patients across the nation.

AJCC Stage Group, Pancreatic Cancer

Stage at diagnosis for CY 2014-2015

This pie chart illustrates how many patients with pancreatic cancer have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis.1

Five-Year Relative Survival, Pancreatic Cancer, Stages I-IV

Cases Diagnosed 2006-2013

The following graph illustrates the survival rates of patients with pancreatic cancer at Roswell Park, compared to the survival rates nationwide. Roswell Park patients, at every stage of disease, have better survival rates.2

Relative Survival compares the actual observed survival with the expected survival of persons unaffected by cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates: What Do They Really Mean

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020, 57,600 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 47,050 will die from the disease. But not everyones pancreatic cancer is the same. Understanding what survival rates meanand which factors can impact themcould help you navigate your or your loved ones disease.

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.

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Positron Emission Tomography Scan

For this nuclear medicine test, a small amount of radioactive sugar is injected through a vein before the body is scanned. The radioactive sugar collects mainly in cancer cells, which then show up on the images. This test is not as specific as CT scanning and is not used alone to diagnose pancreatic cancer. A PET scan is often done in combination with a CT scan.

How Does Survival Rate Depend On Stage At Diagnosis

Pancreatic Cancer Survival rates in England increase significantly in ...

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Better Prognosis For Resectable Tumors

New Report: Pancreatic cancer survival rate improving

Patients whose tumors are found before they have metastasized or become locally advanced tend to have longer survival rates, on average, because their tumors can usually be resected .

About 15 to 20 percent of all pancreatic tumors are resectable. These include stage I and stage II tumors. Rarely, locally advanced stage III tumors, which are typically considered unresectable , are characterized as borderline and may be removed if the patient has access to an experienced, highly trained surgeon.

Tumors can still grow back in many patients. So, on average, patients whose tumors were resected live for 2.5 years after their diagnosis and have a five-year survival rate of 20 to 30 percent.

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The Effects Of Tumor Location Peripancreatic Invasion Lymph Node Metastasis Hepatic Metastasis And The Number Of Distal Organ Metastasis On Prognosis

Our study found that PHC accounted for 66.1% and PBTC accounted for 33.1%, which is similar to a study . They found that the vast majority of PC are in the head, while 20% to 25% are located in the body/tail. Some studies have suggested that the location of pancreatic tumors is a potential determinant of survival . A study found that the survival time of patients with PBTC is shorter than that of patients with PHC. In our study, we found that the mOS of the PHC subgroup was significantly longer than that of the PBTC subgroup . Generally, tumors in the body/tail are found later until they present significant clinical symptoms. At this point, the tumors often infiltrate adjacent organs or vascular structures and possibly metastasize to locoregional lymph nodes via lymphatic vessels or distant organs via hematogenous dissemination . However, tumors located in the head of the pancreas were more likely to compress the common bile duct, resulting in obstructive jaundice, which can be detected promptly .

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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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.

Anatomic Site Functional Performance Status

Pancreatic Cancer Still On Path To Become Second Leading Cause Of ...

The anatomic distribution of all stages of pancreatic cancer and MPC are detailed in Figure 2. Of note, while the head of the pancreas constitutes 6,506 cases of all cancers identified, only 2,656 cases originated at this site among patients with MPC. The tail of the pancreas constituted 4.6% more cases of MPC compared to pancreatic cancer at all stages.

Figure 2

The functional performance status as calculated by the ECOG-PS score is shown in Figure 3 for all stages. The other established system of ranking performance status, the Karnofsky Performance Status was used in a negligible number of charts. The functional status appears to trend down as the stage at diagnosis advances. For example, 36.41% of stage I patients have a functional ECOG-PS score of 0 while only 20% of stage IV patients have an ECOG-PS of 0. For stage I patients, 7.04% of patients had an ECOG-PS score of 3, and 14.39% of patients diagnosed at stage IV had this ECOG-PS score.

Figure 3

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Bile Duct Bypass Surgery

is an option if the tumor is blocking the common bile duct.

The liver normally releases a substance called bile, which helps with digestion. Bile is stored in the gallbladder. It then travels through the common bile duct to the intestines. From there, its removed from the body in the stool.

When a tumor blocks the small intestine, bile can build up in the body and cause jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and eyes.

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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    Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

    • Cancer Treatment Expert

    Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer is an advanced stage of pancreatic cancer in which the tumor metastasizes to other organs. 53% of diagnosed pancreatic cancer cases are in the 4th stage. It is not possible to fully cure, but treatments increase the life expectancy of the patient while improving their quality of life.

    Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is a stage in which pancreatic cancer metastasizes to organs such as the intestine, lung, liver and stomach. At this stage, the 5-year survival rate is approximately 3%. On average, most patients survive one year after diagnosis. The nature and spread of the cancer limit the available treatment options.

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    What Does Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Mean

    Why have pancreatic cancer survival rates remained at 3% since the 1970s?

    Like with other cancers, pancreatic cancer is categorized by stages which describe how far the cancer has spread and how much of the body it has affected.

    In stage 1 and some forms of stage 2 pancreatic cancer, the cancer is contained to the pancreas an organ in the abdomen that helps regulate blood sugar and digestion.

    In other forms of stage 2 and stage 3 pancreatic cancer, the cancer has spread to nearby sites like lymph nodes or blood vessels.

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    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.

    Variation In Pancreatic Cancer Treatment And Care

    Depending on where someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer receives care, their experience can be very different there can be different diagnostic pathways, different standards of care and different approaches to treatment.

    Geographically, variation in treatment and care exists at all levels. There is international survival variation across developed countries, regional treatment variation across Cancer Alliances, and local variation in clinical practice between hospitals.

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    Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

    Stage 4 pancreatic cancer treatments cannot cure the disease, but rather, aim to prolong the life of the patient, suppress symptoms and improve their quality of life.


    Chemotherapy is the main treatment method used for stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It aims to extend the life span of the patient. The drugs can be taken orally or intravenously. Gemcitabine and combinations with other drugs are used for pancreatic cancer.

    Chemoradiation Therapy

    Chemoradiation is the combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is used to slow the growth of the tumor in the pancreas. It does not affect metastasized organs such as liver and lungs. It can also be applied to shrink the tumor after pancreatic surgery.


    Surgical intervention can be performed to alleviate pancreatic cancer symptoms. As the pancreatic tumor grows, it can block the bile duct. In these cases, duct bypass surgery directly connects the bile duct to the small intestine to get around the blockage. Another option is a stentcan be placed to keep the bile duct open.

    The tumor can prevent food from reaching the excretory system from the stomach. In this case, gastric bypass connects the stomach directly to the intestines.

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    What Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Means

    Pancreatic Cancer Remains The Deadliest Major Cancer In The United States

    Doctors use stages when they talk about how cancer has grown or spread. Stage 4 is the last stage. It means that cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. When this happens, cancer is called metastatic.

    One way to stage cancer is called the TNM system. It has 3 parts:

    • T : This part is based on how big a tumor is and where it has spread to. The T rating goes from T0 to T4. In stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the primary tumor can have any T rating.
    • N : Lymph nodes help filter substances in the body. When cancer cells get to the lymph nodes, its easier for them to spread. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer can have an N rating of N1 or N2 .
    • M : Metastasis means cancer has spread to other organs and lymph nodes. There are only two M stages: M0 or M1. Any pancreatic cancer with an M1 rating is at stage 4.

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