Last edited 10/2021 and last reviewed 06/2022

Notable in the epidemiology of carcinoma of the pancreas is that:

  • pancreatic carcinomas are principally adenocarcinomas (over 80%); rarely, they are a result of endocrine cell neoplasia, for example, insulinoma, glucagonoma (1)
  • mainly affects the elderly, being rare before 50 years of age (1)
  • men are affected more often than women, in the ratio 3:2 (1)
  • third most common cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, behind that of bowel and stomach (1)
  • estimated 279,000 cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed worldwide in 2008.
    • highest incidence was reported in North America and Europe (particularly high rates in males in Central and Eastern Europe)
    • lowest incidence rates are found in Asia and Africa (2)
  • accounts for 5% of all cancer deaths (1)
  • incidence seems to have increased in the last two decades possibly as a result of better diagnosis and also a real rise in frequency
  • pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of all cancers
    • 5-year survival is only 3%.
    • relative survival to 1 year is less than 20% and is one of the worst rates in Europe
    • 82% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK will die within a year as most are diagnosed with late stage disease
    • 47% of people are diagnosed as an emergency in our A&E departments (4)
    • only 10% of patients are diagnosed in time for potentially curative surgery (5)
    • those who are diagnosed in time for surgery have a 30% chance of surviving five years (5)


  • pancreatic cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the UK (2010), accounting for 3% of all new cases.
    • in males, it is the 12th most common cancer (3% of the male total), and the 8th in females (3%) (2)
  • in 2010, 8463 people were newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK
  • male:female ratio of almost 1:1
  • in 2009, 8047 people died from pancreatic cancer in the UK
  • 22 people a day die from pancreatic cancer (3)
  • in the UK between 2008 and 2010, an average of around 75% of cases were diagnosed in men and women aged 65 years and over, and 96% of cases were diagnosed in those aged 50 years and over
  • deaths from pancreatic cancer increased between 2002 & 2009 while deaths from many other cancers declined (3)