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Just 3% of patients with the most common type of pancreatic cancer survive 5 years

Five-year survival rate for most common pancreatic cancer just 3%

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The “outrageous” five‐year survival rate in England for patients with the most common type of pancreatic cancer ‐ pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) ‐ has been revealed for the first time in a study, commissioned by the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK

Overall 95% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, but because official survival data for all pancreatic cancer types are grouped together, it was not known that survival rates for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma was so poor. The most recent survival statistics for England show that less than 7% of patients with pancreatic cancer will live for five years or more.

The research, carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, looked at the survival of all adults diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in England between 2010 and 2013, and found that just 3% of people with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma lived for five years or more, while five‐year survival was ten times higher for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (PNET) at 34%.

“In recent years we have seen a shocking lack of progress for pancreatic cancer”

Diana Jupp, Chief Executive, Pancreatic Cancer UK

Diana Jupp, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said that for the first time the study had revealed “the truly outrageous survival for the vast majority of people with pancreatic cancer”.

“Due to increased research investment, in recent years we have seen outstanding progress in other cancers such as breast and prostate, and a shocking lack of progress for pancreatic.”

She called for research investment for pancreatic cancer to be vastly increase to £25 million a year by 2022 and for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the treatment of the disease to be rolled out.

Currently, pancreatic cancer attracts just 2.1% of the annual UK cancer research budget. With 60% of pancreatic cancer patients currently diagnosed at an advanced stage, Pancreatic Cancer UK emphasised the importance of earlier diagnosis so that the one potentially life‐saving treatment of surgery may be an option for more patients.

The charity also wants official survival data on pancreatic cancer to be broken down by type in future, to show a more accurate picture of the disease and enable progress in improving outcomes in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma to be tracked.

Meanwhile a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has suggested that recent‐onset type 2 diabetes may be an early expression of pancreatic cancer.

 “Long‐standing diabetes is a risk factor for this cancer”

Journal of National Cancer Institute researchers

Several studies have shown that people with diabetes have a twofold higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. This study found that diabetes was associated with a more than twofold higher risk of pancreatic cancer in African Americans and Latinos ‐ two minority populations with high diabetes risk – and that recent‐onset diabetes was associated with a 2.3‐fold greater increase in risk of pancreatic cancer than long‐standing diabetes.

The researchers said: “Our findings strongly support the hypothesis that recent‐onset diabetes is a consequence of pancreatic cancer and that long‐standing diabetes is a risk factor for this cancer.”

A total of 48 995 African Americans and Latinos without prior diabetes and cancer were included in the study. Questionnaires, Medicare data, and California hospital discharge files were used to identify new diabetes diagnoses. A total of 15,833 (32.3%) participants developed diabetes between 1993 and 2013, and 408 cases of pancreatic cancer were identified during follow‐up ‐ 128 of which were in people who had diabetes and 280 in those who did not.

Just over half of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who had diabetes (52.3%) developed diabetes in the 36 months preceding their diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Recent‐onset diabetes was strikingly higher among pancreatic cancer cases (16.4%) compared with those diagnosed with colorectal (6.7%), breast (5.3%t), and prostate (5.5%) cancers.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Well, that was much informative. Treatment of such high-risk disease is really costly which can is affordable by only a few people. But what about the people who are financially weak and being diagnosed with cancer? The only answer that comes in mind to this question is the enrollment under a suitable Medicare supplement plan which can provide the coverage of cancer treatment. A number of people are now enrolling themselves under suitable insurance plan so as to get the maximum benefit from it. More details related to such insurance plan can be found at

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