Pancreatic Cancer Life Expectancy

Unfortunately pancreatic cancer life expectancy is very low. Life expectancy is difficult to predict for pancreatic cancer as it depends on many individual factors. Generally however, the prognosis of pancreatic cancer is poor.

The average pancreatic life expectancy is around 4 – 8 months and will vary depending on which source you use. It is important to remember this is just an average of all patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The one year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is approximately 25% (one quarter). This means on average 25% of people with pancreatic cancer will live for at least one year after diagnosis.

Medical professionals often use the term ‘five year survival’ when discussing the life expectancy for various diseases. The five year survival figure is the percentage of patients who are alive after five years after pancreatic cancer is diagnosed.

The five year survival rates of pancreatic cancer vary depending on the stage of the disease. Pancreatic cancer staging is used to assess how far the disease has progressed. It is important to remember that five year survival does not represent the number of people who are cured or become disease free.

Five year survival rates for pancreatic cancer

Stage Five year survival
1A 14%
1B 12%
2A 7%
2B 5%
3 3%
4 1%

These rates will also be affected by the treatment options used for pancreatic cancer. The people that have a longer pancreatic life expectancy have tumours that have not spread to the more dangerous regions of the body. They also get treated through surgery, where parts of the pancreas as well as the tumors themselves get removed. However, there are many cases that even having the ‘best’ pancreatic cancer will only increase one’s pancreatic life expectancy minimally.

So, why is pancreatic cancer life expectancy so low? It’s mainly because the pancreas, (an organ that secretes enzymes that help aide in digestion), is well-hidden in the body. Despite its size it can be hard to get to even for skilled surgeons. There is also the element of the speed through which pancreatic cancer tumors spread.

Additionally, the tumors can get into areas of the body where they are virtually impossible to expel, even through top-notch chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Examples include the blood vessels and the lymph nodes. These tumor deposits are known as metastasis. 

Percentages can rise and fall depending on the stage of the cancer or the treatment used to help prolong the patients’ life expectance. Alternative treatments been claimed to increase the patients’ life while studies in the area of cancer treatment also provide options for increasing life expectance. Indeed, after seeing all of these devastating figures, there should be no mystery as to why pancreatic cancer is the second leading cause of death period in the world. In the U.S. pancreatic cancer is responsible for claiming the lives of 1 percent of the population. This figure encompasses deaths from all possible causes, even diseases that are more infamous, such as HIV/AIDS.

Are there any ways to avoid getting pancreatic cancer, so a person wouldn’t have to worry about pancreatic life expectancy in the first place? Not really, though some studies have shown that not smoking lessens the risk of a person acquiring pancreatic cancer. Additionally, eating healthy and maintaining a normal weight may also aide in not developing the disease. But these are things that a person should be doing anyway, as there are other devastating conditions that can be acquired when a person is not living in the healthiest manner possible.

In conclusion, pancreatic cancer life expectancy is very morbid, and is definitely not pleasant news to those who have been diagnoses. However, everyone needs to be aware of it, so the horrible phenomenon of pancreatic cancer can come into light further, especially for the government and research organizations. This is important since currently pancreatic cancer research is one of the most under-funded forms of cancer research in the United States.

19 Comments on “Pancreatic Cancer Life Expectancy”

  1. I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer September 2014, but I now know I had the symptoms for at least 9months prior to that. I do have a rare form and there is a tumor on the head, middle and tail, these tumors have shrunk as I have been having chemo since January 2015 no operation has been done…having last had chemo in Feb 2016 am on a break taking a small dosage of steroids daily to increase my appetite and strength, no jaundice has yet arisen and the cancer is contained to the pancreas at the time of writing this. My onconolgist Doctor Anne Horgan of Waterford hospital is second to none my faith in her is second to none.

  2. Horrible information. I ha e read about people surviving even with liver mets. Can’t you post about these!!

  3. Dear sir/madam,
    18.5 years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I had a 4.1 malignant tumor on the head of the pancreas. I had radical and whipples surgery, done at the skilful hands of Dr Greg Nolan at the Gold Coast Hospital.
    I am very lucky and very thankful to still be alive and reasonably healthy for my 71 years of age.
    Louisa Fleming, back then Louisa Fechner

  4. Thank you, this was very helpful. I just lost my Great-Grandma to this terrible disease, the doctors gave her 3 months and she went in less than 4 weeks. 🙁 🙁 🙁

  5. From what I have read, a person’s life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis, has A LOT to do with your mental expectations — keeping a positive attitude – not giving up – belief in God…. so many things. I now have a friend who has Stage 3 Adenocarcinoma Pancreas. I’ll have to wait and see how he does…

  6. My Whipple procedure was done five years ago – 11/25/13 – for stage 2B. I feel blessed and guilty for my survival.
    I had superb treatment and care at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. My surgeon was the fabulous Dr. Boris Kuvshinoff, who is now chief medical officer at Roswell. He and Dr. Wesley Papenfuss saved my life.

  7. My daughter is only 30 years of age…She is a petite size frame, and without make-up, can pass for a 15 year old… My concern is, ” can she develop this cancer becuz of her small frame size(being that maybe her organs are smaller). She is not married, has no children, so she still has a lot of pain during her menstrual time. She has recently gone to the doctor, becuz she is worried that her stomach pain may be caused by pancreatic cancer… I do understand, that it mostly affects people in their later years, perhaps from smoking, drinking, not eating healthy etc, etc. She does not smoke, but does drink on occasion. As for her “eating healthy” she does, but it has not always been the case when she was younger in elementary, middle school and maybe high school. Will ex-rays, and sonograms help her in finding this info out? Ty…. Concerned mom. 🙁

  8. Diagnosed 10-12-2018 Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. Cancer in lungs, liver and pancreas.

    Still alive at 12-23-2019. I use Functional Medicine and Chemo Therapy 5FU.
    At this time 19 Chemotheraphy Infusions since Halloween Oct 31st, 2018.

    Cancer gone from lungs. Liver mixed results. Some tumors gone some new tumors in liver but poorly deliniated. Pancreatic tumors still in Head and Tail. I try my best to eat -0- Carbs and I FAST sometimes as much as 20 days which seems to help me kick Pancreatic Cancer numbers down. CA 19-9 Tumor Marker test in October above 16,000 (sixteen thousand). a low of 36 was achieved once. Currently at 12-23-2019 the score was 71 on the CA 19-9 Blood test.

    1. Hi Davis,

      Proud of you that you doing great on the treatment. I hope you are doing well. I want to connect with you to know more about the chemotherapy for pancreas cancer. Since my dad was diagnosed recently he had pancreas cancer and still wonder what we should choose on the next step.

    2. I am still alive at 5-23-2020. CA 19-9 went up in early 2020 to 514 on 3-4-2020 but then it decreased over 8 week period and last test it was 44. Chemo #30 will be this Wednesday
      5-27-2020. My weight has been 165 lb. range for months. I avoid carbs as much as possible and I work hard outside in plenty of sunshine. I have taken no vitamins at all in the year 2020 and every two weeks my blood work looks good, considering that the chemo is responsible for those things in my blood being low, like RBC’s and White Blood Cell Count.
      Diagnosed 10-12-2018 Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer in Pancreas, Lung and Liver

      1. A Davis
        My sister was diagnosed stage 4 pancreatic that spread to liver. First round of chemo was very awful, she is fearful of next rounds. She had the 5-F chemo. She has read about its cumulative affects. Does it get worse? Did the chemo treatments get less aggressive over time?

  9. Just diagnosis with early stage pancreatic cancer (stage 1b). Went through intense 5 90 minute sessions of radiation. Surgery is to high risk. I continue to work full-time, have a strong support system. I have learned that a strong mental outlook and keeping positive and continuing my life as before the diagnosis helps me get through the worst days. Keep being positive

  10. I had pancreatic cancer in 1997 when I was 49 years old and underwent a pylori-saving Whipple procedure followed by adjuvant chemo and radiation therapy. My lymph nodes were not affected. It was found early because the cancer turned on itself and closed off the bile duct which gave me jaundice. I have been healthy ever since and am now heading to 73.

  11. I was recently told that I have a 3mm spot on my pancreas and that surgery is imminent. Haven’t been told anything else yet. 75 years old, married, and still have plans and dreams. No worries. Got Jesus!

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