- In 2021 an estimated 60,430 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S., and more than 48,220 will die from the disease.
- Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. It is currently the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States after lung and colon.
- Symptoms for pancreatic cancer may include weight loss, abdominal discomfort, back pain, development of type 2 diabetes and some tumors may cause jaundice leading to earlier diagnosis.
- Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. For all stages combined, the 5-year relative survival rate is 10%. Even for the small percentage of people diagnosed with local disease, the 5-year survival is only 39%. The majority of patients are diagnosed at a distant stage, for which the 5-year survival is 3%.
- More than 90% of cases are pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC), that develop in the exocrine tissue of the pancreas, which makes digestive enzymes.
- The less common pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), develop in hormone-producing endocrine cells, or islet cells. Neuroendocrine tumors often have a better prognosis and younger median age of diagnosis.
- Treatment options for pancreatic cancer: Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are treatment options that extend survival or relieve symptoms, but seldom produce a cure. Surgical removal of the tumor is possible in less than 20% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer because detection is often in late stages and has spread beyond the pancreas. Adjuvant treatment with chemotherapy (and sometimes radiation) may lower the risk of recurrence. For advanced disease, chemotherapy (sometimes along with a targeted drug therapy) may lengthen survival. Clinical trials are testing several new agents for their ability to improve survival.
- Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer death largely because there are no detection tools to diagnose the disease in its early stages when surgical removal of the tumor is still possible.
*Source for statistics: American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts & Figures 2021