While the pancreatic cancer survival rate has been improving from decade to decade, the malignancy is still relatively incurable. Cancer of the pancreas more often than not has a poor prognosis and low survival rate, even when detected early. Characteristically, the cancer tends to spread quickly, infiltrating and causing metastasis, and is hardly ever detected in the early phase of the disease.
Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate
The American Cancer Society says that, for all stages of pancreatic cancer, combined, the 1-year relative pancreatic survival rate is only about 20 %, and the 5 year survival rate is 4%. Low pancreatic survival rate is attributed to the fact that less than 10% of the patients’ cancer is restricted to the pancreas at the time of diagnosis; in most cases, the cancer has spread and already reached a stage where surgical removal is not possible.
In cases where resection can be carried out, the average pancreatic cancer survival rate is approximately 18 – 20 months. The overall 5-year pancreatic cancer survival rate is 10 %. On the other hand, this figure may rise to 20 % – 25 % if the cancer is excised completely and has not spread to the lymph nodes, thus checking metastasis.
Pancreatic cancer survival rate depends upon:
Tumor Size and Location
Tumor size has a huge influence on the pancreatic cancer survival rate. The bigger the tumor, more difficult it is to be cured by resection. Nevertheless, even big tumors may be excised and many patients with tumors 5 cm or more appear to have been treated by surgery.
Progression and Spread of the Disease
In patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, where a complete cure is not possible, the progression of the malignancy may be accompanied by extreme fatigue and weakness, weight loss, and pain. Effective techniques for pain management are available today, and are used by physicians experienced in the care of pancreatic cancer patients. Techniques used to bring about palliation are nerve blocks and administration of various drugs that can be given by mouth or injection. There are a whole range of effective techniques available to manage bile duct blockage which tends to cause jaundice and stomach obstruction due to the growth of the cancer. Surgical as well as non surgical techniques are quite effective.