The pancreases is an organ that is located near the stomach and performs the functions of producing hormones that control sugar metabolism and of producing enzymes that help the digestive process. Pancreatic cancer results in the growth of cancer cells in the pancreas tissues.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer
- The white of the eyes and the skin may become jaundice-yellowish
- Loss of weight
- Pain in upper abdomen that may pass on to the back
- Loss of appetite
- Formation of blood clots
Causes of pancreatic cancer
- The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not yet understood.
- Mutation of the DNA in the cells of the pancreas results in the formation of pancreatic cancer. Most cases of pancreatic cancer commence in the cells that are present in the duct linings of the pancreas. In rare cases, the cancer may develop in the cells that are responsible for producing the hormones.
- The presence of conditions such as diabetes, prolonged inflammation of the pancreas, family history of pancreatic cancer or of certain genetic syndromes, being obese or overweight and smoking increases the risk to developing pancreatic cancer.
Treatment of pancreatic cancer
The treatment of pancreatic cancer depends on the location and stage of the cancer as well as other factors such as the patients’ age, overall health, etc.
- It may be treated via surgery wherein the tumor is surgically removed from the pancreas
- Radiation therapy may be used to direct intense rays of radiation at the cancer cells to destroy them
- Chemotherapy may be used to intravenously administer specifically designed cancer-cells killing drugs.
Pancreatic cancer survival rate
The survival rate for pancreatic cancer has been improving with the passage of years and improvements in medical science. However, the disease still remains largely incurable. Survival rate depends on the rate of survival of the patient after the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
- Patients have a 20 % chance of survival for one year and around 4 % chance of survival for five years, regardless of the stage of pancreatic cancer
- If the tumor has been successfully removed, then the five year survival rate increases to 10 % and to about 20 to 25 percent when the cancer has not metastasized or spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
The five year survival rate as per the gender and race are as follows:
- 4.2 percent for white women
- 5.6 percent for African American women
- 4.7 percent for white men
- 2.9 percent for African American men
Stages of Pancreatic Cancer and Diagnosis
- 7 percent of the pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed while in the localized stage, when it has not spread to other areas.
- 26 percent of the cases are diagnosed when the cancer has spread to regional lymph nodes
- 52 percent of the cases are determined in the metastasized stage, when the cancer has spread to distant cells
- 14 percent of the cases are diagnosed in unknown stages
The five year survival rates as per the stages are listed below:
- 16.4 % for localized
- 7 % for regional
- 1.8 % for distant
- 4.3 % for un-staged/unknown stage
Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate
Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer has the lowest life expectancy with just one percent chance of a person surviving up to 5 years. The number of years left can depend on many factors like health of the patient, age of the patient, treatment options and stage of diagnosis. With proper treatment, one may be able to improve the life expectancy. Surgery is ruled out in this stage, and chemotherapy is preferred as a means of
has the lowest life expectancy rate, as the cancer affects other organs of the body in this stage. It is considered as a fatal stage for most types of cancer, but with proper treatment, life expectancy rate can increase. Lifestyle habits like smoking and alcohol consumption also play a part in the survival rate of patients. There are new drugs coming in the market and continuous clinic trials are being done to improve stage 4 pancreatic cancer survival rate.