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Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis

Factors Influencing a Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis

The American Cancer Society predicted that 33,730 Americans (17,150 men and 16,580 women) would be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006 and that 32,300 American men and women would die of the disease during the year.
The prognosis for pancreatic cancer will depend on factors such as:
  • Whether the tumor can be removed by surgery
  • The patient's general health
  • Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).
Pancreatic cancer can be controlled only if it is found before it has spread and only if it can be removed by surgery. If the cancer has spread, palliative treatment can improve the patient's quality of life by controlling the symptoms and complications that may develop. However, palliative treatment cannot cure the disease.

What Are Survival Rates?

Survival rates indicate the percentage of people who survive a disease for a specific period of time after their diagnosis. Often, statistics refer to the five-year survival rate. The five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who are alive five years after diagnosis, whether they have few or no signs or symptoms of cancer, are free of disease, or are receiving treatment. Survival rates are based on large groups of people, and they cannot be used to predict what will happen to a particular patient.

Five-Year Survival Rates

Survival rates can be calculated by different methods for different purposes. The pancreatic cancer survival rates presented here are based on the relative survival rate. The relative survival rate measures the survival of cancer patients in comparison to the general population to estimate the effect of the disease. The overall five-year relative survival rate for 1995 to 2001 was 4.6 percent. The five-year relative pancreatic cancer survival rates by race and sex were as follows:
  • 4.7 percent for white men
  • 4.2 percent for white women
  • 2.9 percent for black men
  • 5.6 percent for black women.
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