prognosis of pancreatic cancer
Last edited 05/2019 and last reviewed 06/2022
The prognosis of pancreatic carcinoma is very poor.
The benefit of surgical intervention is dependent on the site of the tumour. A Whipple's resection for carcinoma of the head of the pancreas can give, at best, a 5-year survival of 19%. An absence of lymph node involvement was associated with an improved prognosis.
Tumours of the body and tail of the pancreas are associated with a worse prognosis, whatever the mode of intervention, 1-year survival was 8-9%.
Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of all cancers
- 5-year survival is less than 3% (1,2,3)
- around a fifth (21%) of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for one year or more (2010-11) (3)
- pancreatic cancer survival is similar in men than women
- pancreatic cancer survival in England is higher for people diagnosed aged
under 50 years old (2009-2013) (3)
- more than 3 in 20 men and around a quarter of women in England diagnosed with pancreatic cancer aged 15-49 survive their disease for five years or more, compared with only 2% of people diagnosed aged 80 and over (2009-2013)
- pancreatic cancer survival has not shown much improvement in the last 40 years in the UK. In the 1970s, 1% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survived their disease beyond ten years, now it's still 1%
- 82% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK will die within a year as most are diagnosed with late stage disease
- only 10% of patients are diagnosed in time for potentially curative surgery (4)
- pancreatic cancer patients with a known stage are most commonly diagnosed
at stage IV (68-69%)
- more patients with a known stage are diagnosed at a late stage (79% are diagnosed at stage III or IV), than an early stage (21% are diagnosed at stage I or II (3)
- those who are diagnosed in time for surgery have a 30% chance of surviving five years (5)
- 1) Referral Guidelines for Suspected Cancer (April 2000). NHS Executive.
- 2) based on 2009 UK mortality figures (from http://pancreaticcanceraction.org/facts-figures/quick-statistics/)
- 3) CRUK. Pancreatic cancer statistics (Accessed 29/5/19)
- 4) White et al., (1999) in Sultana et al.Systematic review, including meta-analysis, on the management of locally advanced pancreatic cancer using radiation/combined modal therapy. British Journal of Cancer 2007; 96:1183-1190
- 5) Ghaneh et al.Neoadjuvant and adjuvant strategies for pancreatic cancer. EJSO 2008;34:297-305