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How Stage Affects Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis

The stage of the disease plays a role in the pancreatic cancer prognosis. Based on historical data:
  • 7 percent of cases are diagnosed while the cancer is still confined to the primary site (localized stage)
  • 26 percent of cases are diagnosed after pancreatic cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes or directly beyond the primary site
  • 52 percent of cases are diagnosed after the cancer has already metastasized (distant stage)
  • 14 percent of pancreatic cancer cases had staging information that was unknown.
The corresponding five-year relative survival rates were as follows:
  • 16.4 percent for localized
  • 7.0 percent for regional
  • 1.8 percent for distant
  • 4.3 percent for unstaged.

Final Thoughts

Patients with pancreatic cancer and their loved ones face many unknowns. Some people find that it is easier to cope with the disease when they know the statistics. Other people find statistical information confusing and frightening, and they think it is too impersonal to be of use to them. The doctor who is most familiar with the patient's situation is in the best position to discuss the prognosis for pancreatic cancer and to explain what the statistics concerning the disease may mean for that person.
At the same time, it is important to understand that even the doctor cannot tell a patient exactly what to expect. In fact, a person's prognosis may change if the cancer progresses or if treatment is successful. Seeking information about the disease is a personal decision -- it is up to each patient to decide how much information he or she wants to know.
(Click Pancreatic Cancer Statistics for more information about the disease.) 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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