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Is pancreatic cancer fatal?

In most diagnosed cases, pancreatic cancer is fatal. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95 percent of diagnosed cases. It has a survival rate of only about 2 percent after five years. This is because pancreatic cancer often does not produce symptoms until it has advanced beyond the early stages in which it can be treated by removing the tumor.

Ajay K. Sahajpal, MD
Transplant Surgery

Yes. Pancreatic cancer is the 4th deadliest cancer that one can be diagnosed with. The only proven cure for pancreatic cancer is complete resection of the pancreas mass found in the early stages of the disease process. Unfortunately, discovery of the mass at the time of presentation of symptoms is late stage. Upon symptomatic presentation, 15-20% of patients are eligible for surgical removal. Even with mass removal, prognosis is dismal with a 5 year survival rate of approximately 25-30% for disease not involving lymph nodes, approximately 10% for disease involving lymph nodes. According to the national cancer data base, the overall total median survival for pancreatic adenocarcinoma is 12.6 months. On a positive note, statistics are showing improvement with the involvement of neoadjuvant therapies (when appropriate) and multi-disciplinary approach to fighting this disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.