With an overall five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of this disease. Pancreatic cancer prognosis and survival rates, however, will vary based on the stage at diagnosis and the effectiveness of any treatments undertaken. Unfortunately, this form of cancer is often only detected in its later stages, which gives rise to such a high mortality rate. According to the American Cancer Society, about 53,000 people across the country will be diagnosed with this disease in the coming year. An estimated 43,000 will die pancreatic cancer-related deaths.

The specific pancreatic cancer prognosis a patient may receive will depend on the stage of the disease in which detection occurs and other related factors. As it is with all forms of cancer, survivability tends to be higher when the disease is caught in earlier stages when interventions have a higher chance of being successful. The cancer society estimates these five-year survival rates based on stage of diagnosis:

  • Stage IA – About 14 percent
  • Stage IB – About 12 percent
  • Stage IIA – About 7 percent
  • Stage IIB – About 5 percent
  • Stage III – About 3 percent
  • Stage IV – about 1 percent

The survival rates are estimates, however. An individual’s prognosis may vary based on the nature of the tumor, its response to treatment and other case-specific factors.

Researchers are working with intensity to develop better treatments for this form of cancer and more effective screening tools. In the meantime, it is recommended those at risk take steps to lower their likelihood of developing this disease. Common risk factors include obesity, tobacco use, age, family history, certain genetic syndromes, new-onset type 2 diabetes and chronic pancreatitis, among others. People who are at risk for the disease are urged to talk to their doctors about steps they can take to help prevent the disease.