Pancreatic Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person with pancreatic cancer is different, with different factors involved. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually.

This year, an estimated 60,430 adults (31,950 men and 28,480 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The disease accounts for approximately 3% of all cancers. Pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women and the tenth most common cancer in men. Incidence rates of pancreatic cancer have gone up by around 1% each year since 2000.

It is estimated that 48,220 deaths (25,270 men and 22,950 women) from this disease will occur this year. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. It accounts for 7% of all cancer deaths. The death rate has very slowly increased each year since 2000.

As explained in the Introduction, most pancreatic cancers (90%) are exocrine adenocarcinoma.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The general 5-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is 10%. Survival rates and individual outcomes are based on many factors, including the specific stage of disease when it is diagnosed. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) often have a better prognosis, which is the chance of recovery.

Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to diagnose. This is because there are no validated, specific screening tests that can easily and reliably find early-stage pancreatic cancer in people who have no symptoms. This means it is often not found until later stages when the cancer can no longer be removed with surgery and/or has spread from the pancreas to other parts of the body.

If the cancer is detected at an early stage when surgical removal of the tumor is possible, the 5-year survival rate is 39%. About 11% of people are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs, the 5-year survival rate is 13%. For the 52% of people who are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 3%.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with pancreatic cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2021, the ACS website, and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program (sources accessed February 2021).

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by pancreatic cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.