Pancreatic Cancer Life Expectancy

Pancreatic Cancer Life Expectancy – What are the odds?


In the United States, pancreatic cancer is often held responsible for claiming the lives of a full one percent of the nation’s population; and, sadly, the disease has the tendency to take those lives very quickly.  That’s why it’s important to consider the question of pancreatic cancer life expectancy.

Indeed, the average life expectancy for a pancreatic cancer patient following diagnosis is only 5 to 8 months; the percentage that makes it past the five-year mark is only 5 percent.  And only 20 percent of pancreatic cancer patients will survive at least 1 year following their diagnosis.

Why such a low pancreatic cancer life expectancy?  The main reason likely lies in the anatomical position of the organ affected.  The pancreas is well-concealed in the body and difficult for surgeons to reach.  This means that pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose in early stages, in which treatment is almost always more possible and successful; and even when the cancer is discovered it’s tough to eliminate—as surgeons have a difficult time accessing the organ and removing any tumors that may be attached.

Also affecting the rate of pancreatic cancer life expectancy is the relative speed with which pancreatic tumors spread, and the fact that they tend to spread to areas of the body that—like the pancreas itself—are difficult to reach.  These include the blood vessels and the lymph nodes.

Sadly, even in those rare cases where pancreatic cancer is more easily found, pancreatic cancer life expectancy is not great.  Even among those who suffer from the ‘best’ forms of pancreatic cancer, only 16 percent are likely to survive past the 5-year point.

Of course, as with most types of disease, the pancreatic cancer life expectancy is not cast in stone these days.  As with any other type of cancer, pancreatic cancer—when caught in the early stages—can be treated and even cured, thus prolonging the patient’s existence.  Every day doctors and researchers are working to find and devise new cancer treatments, and new alternative treatments also are appearing on the medical market.


Pancreatic cancer is a harrowing disease that claims many lives each year, both in the United States and around the world.  Unfortunately, no one can offer a false sense of optimism when it comes to pancreatic cancer life expectancy.  Yet thanks to the hard work of doctors and scientists—not to mention the fund-raising efforts of nonprofit help organizations around the world—pancreatic cancer life expectancy might soon be on the rise; along with the hopes of those afflicted by this devastating disease.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Bill Hoyler

    My son Billy was diagnosed at age 24. After undergoing a harrowing 14.5 hour Whipple operation he lived for another 8.5 years due to the care he received at Moffatt Cancer Hospital in Tampa, Fl. The vast majority of the post operation 103 months he lived were good. He went to college and made many friends thru social media. He was treated with Gemzar and ( forgive my spelling ) Texatere and drug I know as F5VU. He smoked pot to keep his appetite and spirits up and didn’t lose weight until the last 3 weeks of his life. The end was awful and made me question God’s existence. Tumors were in his brain, spine, liver, lungs. The brain tumor caused a stroke that killed him though by the time it happened it was a blessing. He asked me to end his life because of the pain he was in. Then God intervened with the stroke that put him in a coma then killed him.

    • Malissa

      My condolences to you and your family. Your son was a trooper. Thank God for the time you had with him till the end. God Bless.

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