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What are the Rates of Pancreatic Cancer Survival?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pancreatic cancer is undoubtedly one of the most difficult cancers for the human body to fight. It is marked by its extremely low rate of survival, though this rate can and hopefully will change in the future. Nevertheless, statistics as of the late 2000s for pancreatic cancer survival at the five-year point suggest that only about 5% are still alive, and these 5% may still be fighting the cancer. This percentage is slightly difficult to understand because it accounts for all cases, and not all cases are the same.

It might be better to understand that pancreatic cancer survival rate is greatly improved when people get early diagnosis of this disease. In fact, people who catch this cancer early, when it still only in the pancreas, are likely to have a greater than 16% chance of surviving at 5 years. The trouble with this statistic is that so few cases of pancreatic cancer, less than 10%, get diagnosed when the cancer is in this stage.

There aren’t that many symptoms of early pancreatic cancer and they may be easily ignored. Symptoms people should note are pain/discomfort in the upper stomach and possibly back, perhaps evidence of jaundice, depression, and weight loss. People most at risk include men, usually over 60, and those who smoke or who have pancreatitis may be more at risk.

Even with these risk factors and symptoms not all people notice them or see their doctors right away. This allows the aggressive cancer to move into the lymph nodes around the pancreas, though the cancer still remains in the same general area. With those who are diagnosed when the disease is still in the same region, pancreatic cancer survival rate is 7%.

The tendency of the cancer to spread elsewhere very quickly is huge. Cancer from the pancreas may leap to any number of different organs. Once this abnormal cell behavior occurs, pancreatic cancer survival tends to become less than 2%, a significant drop.

The overall pancreatic cancer survival statistics have resonance in the medical/scientific community. There are continually new experiments and new trials offered to attempt to increase survival rate or find a complete cure. While these experiments have not, as yet, proven successful, there remains hope, in addition to dire need, that significant advances will be found through research and experimentation.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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