Pancreatic Cancer Survival RatesThursday, February 5th, 2009
Pancreatic cancer survival rates are one of the lowest among cancers survival rates, with less than 5% of those diagnosed with the disease reaching the 5 year survival mark. Pancreatic cancer is considered to be the “worst” of all cancers. This is because this disease is rarely discovered in the early stages, resulting in a poor prognosis for the disease. Complete remissions are extremely rare.
Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates Reported Low
As per the American Cancer Society, Pancreatic Cancer is the 4th leading cause for cancer deaths in the US each year. As per estimates, in 2007, 37000 people were diagnosed with the disease and 34000 died from it. In Europe, around 60,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year. The mortality rate is approximately the same as the rate of incidence, the median survival rate for pancreatic cancer being 3 to 6 months from diagnosis.
Pancreatic cancer is rarely diagnosed early and is very often misdiagnosed because it has hardly any or no typical symptoms in the early stages. Typical symptoms are abdominal pain and jaundice and these symptoms manifest themselves only in the advanced stage of the disease. Nearly two thirds of patients are diagnosed with the disease at this stage where the disease is metastatic or locally advanced.
Surgery Might Increase Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates
Surgery is offered as an option, but not in all cases. When it is offered, it is done so not as a cure or to increase the pancreatic cancer survival rate, but rather to improve the quality of life of the person affected with the disease.
Whether surgery is offered or not first of all depends on the stage of the disease. The surgical procedure is a Pancreaticduodenectomy, also called the Whipple procedure. This is a major surgery and is performed if the tumor is at a resectable stage, which is when the tumor is confined to the pancreas only and is clearly separated from the surrounding blood vessels. This gives patients an extended life span by approximately 17 months. Chemotherapy is offered after surgery, and this can increase the pancreatic cancer survival rate to about 5 years.
Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates with Surgery
Surgery is also offered for palliative purposes when the cancer is advanced and if the tumor has invaded or is compressing the duodenum or the colon. At this stage, surgery only improves the quality of life.
Statistics bear witness to the claim that this is one of the deadliest of all cancers as medical intervention can improve pancreatic cancer survival rates marginally only and that too for about 15-20% of patients only.