Pancreatic Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2015

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how 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.

This year, an estimated 55,440 adults (29,200 men and 26,240 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The disease causes approximately 3% of all cancers. Incidence rates are 25% higher in black people than in white people.

It is estimated that 44,330 deaths (23,020 men and 21,310 women) from this disease will occur this year. Pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women and the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women. It accounts for 7% of all cancer deaths. As explained in the Introduction, most pancreatic cancers (94%) are exocrine adenocarcinoma, and these statistics are for that type of pancreatic cancer.

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 5-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is 8%. Survival rates are based on many factors, including the specific stage of disease when it is diagnosed.

Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to diagnose. This is because there are no specific, cost-effective 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 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 32%. Only 10% of people are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs, the 5-year survival rate is 12%. 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 this type of 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. People should talk with their doctor if they have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2018, and the ACS website.

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