Pancreatic cancer is one of the diseases that are not amenable to therapy. According to the American Cancer Society, 85% of patients live no more than one year after diagnosis. Doctors identify several reasons for the low success rate of treatment
Rapid and aggressive development of cancer. In this regard, it is difficult to diagnose at an early stage;
The similarity of pancreatic cancer to pancreatitis and intestinal disorders. As a result, incorrectly appointment therapy;
Inoperability of some tumors. If the tumor has grown into neighboring tissues and blood vessels, its complete removal is impossible.
In this article, we will help you understand the prognosis and survival rates for pancreatic cancer.
How is survival rate determined?
The survival rate is the percentage of patients who are alive for a specific time (5, 10, 15 years) after being diagnosed with the disease.
Doctors-oncologists often use the coefficient of a 5-year survival rate.
5-year survival rate shows what percentage of patients live 5 or more years after the tumor is detected.
It is important to take into account that the current 5-year survival rates were calculated 4-5 years ago. As medicine develops, pancreatic cancer patients can have a better prognosis than statistics show.
What affects the survival rate of pancreatic cancer?
Stage of the disease
The prognosis is influenced by the size and location of cancer, the presence of secondary tumors.
The larger the tumor, the less likely it can be removed. If cancer has grown in adjacent and remote organs, the prognosis worsens by 2-3 times.
Localization of a malignant tumor
From where the tumor is located, the symptoms differ. If cancer affects the head of the pancreas, the bile duct is squeezed. It causes a worsening of the general condition, and the disease can be diagnosed before spreading. In 90% of cases, patients with this form of the lesion are eligible for surgical intervention.
Tumors of the body and tail of the pancreas are developing asymptomatically, therefore have more time to spread before the start of the symptoms-diagnosis-therapy process.
The degree of malignancy (on a scale from G1 to G3 or G4)
The degree of malignancy is determined through the index of cell differentiation. The lower it is, the more cancer cells differ from healthy ones. They are more aggressive and spread faster.
Possibility of complete removal (resection)
It is one of the most important indicators that affect the prognosis. Depending on the stage and size of the tumor, the doctor determines whether it is possible to remove it.
The survival rate for a resectable pancreatic tumor
If the tumor is removed, the cancer cells become smaller; progression slows down. In this case, the prognosis is more favorable.
The 5-year survival rate
- I - 61%
- II - 52%
- III - 41%
- IV - 16%
The survival rate for an unresectable pancreatic tumor
Prognosis for such patients is not good. For patients with inoperable cancer, palliative therapy is used. It includes chemotherapy, radiotherapy, painkillers. Palliative treatment relieves pain and improves quality of life.
The 5-year survival rate
- I - 12-14%
- II - 5-7%
- III - 3%
- IV - 1%
Prognosis for pancreatic cancer stages 1-3
- stages 0 and 1
At this stage, the tumor is within the gland; its dimensions are 0.5-1.5 cm. In most cases, the treatment is surgery. The 5-year survival rate is 60-65%.
- stage 2
During stage 2, the tumor grows larger than 2 cm. It begins to spread to the lymph nodes. In 50% of cases, surgical treatment is indicated. The 5-year survival rate is 50-52%.
If the resection cannot be carried out, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used. The prognosis, in this case, is 12-15%.
- stage 3
At this stage, the tumor extends beyond the pancreas, affects large vessels and nerves. Cancer can be removed in 20% of cases. The 5-year survival rate is 41%. If surgical intervention is not indicated, the survival rate is only 3%.
To improve the quality of life and relief pain, the palliative therapy is prescribed.
- stage IV of pancreatic cancer
The last stage is characterized by affecting surrounding and distant vital organs. Metastases can be found in the liver, lungs, brain, bones.
How long patients live at stage 4 of the disease?
The average life expectancy without treatment is 8 months. If combined therapy is prescribed, the patients may live up to 1,5 years.
Pancreatic cancer treatment at stage 4
At this stage, palliative therapy is indicated. It is aimed at alleviating the pain syndrome and improving the quality of life. Doctors apply chemotherapy, radiation, pain medications. In some cases, doctors prescribe a palliative surgery. It consists of partial resection of affected sites.
The prognosis for pancreatic cancer depends on the stage at which the pathology was found. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the more likely that the affected part of the gland can be removed. Thus the patient can reach remission.
If the tumor is inoperable, it is important to form a plan for palliative therapy. It relieves pain and improves well-being.