Pancreatic cancer

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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 person’s 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.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for pancreatic cancer is 8%. This means that, on average, about 8% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive for at least 5 years.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer usually grows quickly and has a poor prognosis.

Generally, the earlier pancreatic cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

Often pancreatic cancer is not found until it is at an advanced stage, where the tumour has spread or cannot be removed with surgery, which can make it somewhat more difficult to treat.

Pancreatic cancer often comes back after treatment (recurs) even after it is completely removed with surgery.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of pancreatic cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It may include statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada.

The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who are alive at least 5 years after their cancer diagnosis. But people with this type of cancer may live much longer than 5 years.

Pancreatic cancer survival
Resectability5-year observed survival

Resectable

15% to 20%

Locally advanced

11%

Metastatic

2%

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of cancer
  • the stage
  • certain characteristics of the cancer
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

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