Pancreatic Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with cancer are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this cancer and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. 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. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer?

In 2023, an estimated 64,050 adults (33,130 men and 30,920 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. In both men and women, the number of new cases of pancreatic cancer have gone up by around 1% each year since the late 1990s. Worldwide, an estimated 495,773 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020.

It is estimated that 50,550 deaths (26,620 men and 23,930 women) from this disease will occur in the United States in 2023. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Pancreatic cancer accounts for 7% of all cancer deaths. Since the late 1990s, the death rate has very slowly increased by 0.2% per year in men and stayed steady in women. In 2020, an estimated 466,003 people worldwide died from pancreatic cancer.

As explained in the Introduction, more than 90% of pancreatic cancers are exocrine adenocarcinoma.

What is the survival rate for pancreatic cancer?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from pancreatic cancer. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having cancer may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with pancreatic cancer are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this cancer.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years. Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with pancreatic cancer are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if cancer will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for pancreatic cancer in the United States is 12%.

The survival rates for pancreatic cancer vary based on several factors. These include the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) often have a better prognosis, which is the chance of recovery, both in terms of the chance of a cure and in terms of life expectancy if not cured.

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 do not show symptoms. Furthermore, people with pancreatic cancer often do not have clearly identified symptoms in the early stages of the disease. 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 relative survival rate is 44%. About 12% of people are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs, the 5-year relative survival rate is 15%. For the 52% of people who are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 3%.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for pancreatic cancer every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how pancreatic cancer is diagnosed or treated from the last 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 2023, the ACS website, the International Agency for Research on Cancer website, and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. (All sources accessed March 2023.)

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.