Pancreatic cancer is a disease that affects the pancreas (an organ in the back of abdomen located behind the stomach). Pancreatic Cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death across the globe. In the United States each year, over 30,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
There are two main types of Pancreatic Cancers:
- Cancers of the endocrine pancreas – It is also known as Islet cell or Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Cancers. Endocrine Pancreas is the part that makes insulin.
- Cancers of the exocrine pancreas – Exocrine Pancreas is the part that makes enzymes.
For further details on pancreatic cancer, check our previous blog on the topic Pancreatic Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Survivors and Clinical Trials.
Factors affecting Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis
The prognosis for pancreatic cancer will depend on factors such as:
- Whether the tumor can be removed by surgery
- The stage of the cancer
- The patient’s general health
- Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back).
Pancreatic Cancer Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of a person suffering from pancreatic cancer is very low. About 20 percent of patient lives for at least one year. The life expectancy for people living over 5 years is 5 percent only. The percentage goes up or down depending upon the stage of disease.
Following are the reasons why pancreatic cancer life expectancy is so low:
- The pancreas discharges enzymes that bring about digestion, and is deep inside the body. It is very hard to target even for very skilled surgeons.
- Its location makes the condition difficult to diagnose in its earlier stage.
- Most cruel is the speed at which a pancreatic cancer can spread and into parts of the body where they are cannot be expelled from, despite chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Statistically, a person suffering with pancreatic cancer is more likely to die however they need to keep trying new treatments but the best advice I believe that I can offer is to use support groups. The groups are usually chaired by a health professional and give the chance to be with other cancer sufferers.
Listed below are some clinical trials investigating new treatments for Pancreatic Cancer.
- Cisplatin Metronomic Low-Dose Interferon Alfa Gemcitabine and Fever-Range Whole-Body Hyperthermia in Treating Patients With Inoperable or Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer
- Gemcitabine Hydrochloride With or Without Erlotinib Hydrochloride Followed By the Same Chemotherapy Regimen With or Without Radiation Therapy and Capecitabine or Fluorouracil in Treating Patients With Pancreatic Cancer That Has Been Removed By Surgery
- Study of Low-Dose Fractionated Radiotherapy in Patients With Locally Advanced Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer
- Tarceva With Chemoradiation and Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Resectable Pancreatic Cancer