Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis

Pancreatic Cancer Life Expectancy

While the overall outlook for those dealing with pancreatic cancer has improved over the past few decades, it remains one of the toughest cancers to treat.  

Here is some important information about the prognosis of pancreatic cancer. 

What Do We Mean By Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis?

When we look at pancreatic cancer prognosis and life expectancy, we usually focus on the five-year survival rate—the 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 that’s 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 don’t always reflect survival improvements due to advances in treatment.

What are the Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates?

With that in mind, here are some of the most recent statistics regarding the survival rates of pancreatic cancer: 

  • The overall five-year survival rate for Pancreatic cancer is 7.2%
  • Looking only at pancreatic cancers that have not spread beyond the pancreas (called “Localized” Cancers), the survival rate is 27.1%.
  • For cancers that have spread, but only to nearby areas (called “Regional” cancers), the survival rate is 10.7%.
  • For cancers that have spread beyond that (called “Distant” or “Metastatic” cancers), the survival rate is 2.4%

(All data comes from the National Cancer Institute and the most recent reports of the SEER Cancer Statistics Review)

What Does This Mean For Me?

While these statistics give a reliable estimate for the general population, they don’t always take into account the details of your particular case.  

Personal factors like age, family history and behavior can have a significant effect on your prognosis and may affect how closely these numbers apply to you. 

Survival rate is one aspect of prognosis.  Your outlook may be just as focused on comfort and quality of life as it is on life expectancy, and all of these elements will be affected by personal treatment decisions you and your health care team make.  Be sure to talk with your doctor about your specific goals.

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