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Pancreatic cancer

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Prognosis and survival for pancreatic cancer

If you have pancreatic cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis and survival. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect a person, and how it will respond to treatment. A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together and they both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.

The following are prognostic factors for pancreatic cancer.

Stage

The most important prognostic factor for pancreatic cancer is the stage, which describes the amount of cancer in the body. As a general rule, the prognosis is more favourable if the cancer is found early and is resectable (stage I or II).

Performance status

Performance status is the measure of how well a person can do ordinary tasks and carry out daily activities. It is often measured with the Karnofsky performance status scale. People with a high performance status (Karnofsky score higher than 70) before surgery have a better prognosis than those with a lower performance status.

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Establishing a national caregivers strategy

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The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.

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