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 patients 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 people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured). Also, people with pancreatic cancer can die of other things. These rates, called observed survival rates, don’t take that into account.

In order 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 more favorable 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 cannot predict what will happen in any particular person's case. Many other factors can affect a person's outlook, such as the patient's age and overall health, what treatments are given, and how well the cancer responds to treatment. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below apply to you, as he or she is familiar with your situation.

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.

Exocrine pancreatic cancer


    5-year observed survival

    Stage IA:


    Stage IB


    Stage IIA


    Stage IIB


    Stage III


    Stage IV


In general, those treated with surgery survived longer, while those not treated with surgery fared worse. However, only about 1 of every 6 patients was 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.

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors treated with surgery


5- year survival

Stage I


Stage II


Stage III


Stage IV


Last Medical Review: 01/28/2013
Last Revised: 02/05/2014