Pancreatic Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Pancreatic cancer survival by stage

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person’s prognosis (outlook). Some people with pancreatic cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. If you decide you do not want to know them, stop reading here and skip to the next section.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many of these people live much longer than 5 years. Also, people with pancreatic cancer can die of other things. The rates below, called observed survival rates, don’t take that into account.

The numbers below are among the most current available. To get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a better outlook for people now being diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas.

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen with any particular person. Many other factors can affect a person’s outlook, such as their age and overall health and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below apply to you, as he or she knows your situation best.

Exocrine pancreatic cancer

The numbers below come from the National Cancer Data Base and are based on people diagnosed with exocrine cancer of the pancreas between 1992 and 1998.


    5-year observed survival rate

    Stage IA


    Stage IB


    Stage IIA


    Stage IIB


    Stage III


    Stage IV


In general, people who can be treated with surgery survive longer, while those not treated with surgery don’t fare as well.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors treated with surgery

For pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, survival statistics by stage are only available for patients treated with surgery. These numbers come from the National Cancer Data Base and are based on patients diagnosed between 1985 and 2004.


    5-year observed survival rate

    Stage I


    Stage II


    Stage III


    Stage IV


In this database, the overall 5-year survival rate for people who were not able to have their tumors removed by surgery was 16%.

Last Medical Review: 06/11/2014
Last Revised: 01/09/2015