Pancreatic cancer is not common type of cancer, but it is a leading cause of death due to cancer. This cancer affects about 1 in 10,000 people each year. There are several types of pancreatic cancer, but adenocarcinomas are the most common type (9 in 10 cases are adenocarcinomas). Pancreatic cancer typically grows and spreads rapidly. It is usually diagnosed in its advanced stages as in early stages, it often does not cause any symptoms.
Primary pancreatic cancer: If the cancer is not treated, it will continue to grow. Overall, the five year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is very low. In early stages when the cancer is localised to pancreas, the 5 year survival rate is about 16%, which decreases to about 2% in patients with metastatic cancer. Most pancreatic cancers are diagnosed when they are advanced and less than 20% of the cancers are diagnosed in localised stages (when the cancer is still confined to pancreas). More than 50% of the cancers are diagnosed after distant metastasis. According to experts, when the one-year relative survival rate is assessed for all stages of cancers, it is about 20% and the five-year survival rate is 4%.
Recurrent pancreatic cancer: A cancer, which recurs (comes back) after successful treatment is known as recurrent cancer. There are limited treatment options for recurrent pancreatic cancers and they are resistant to most chemotherapy drugs; this makes treatment of recurrent cancers a challenge. Survival rate of recurrent pancreatic cancer is poor and the overall survival duration is only a few months.