Pancreatic Cancer is one of the worst forms of cancer. The Rhode Island Cancer Council says that "it is the 5th leading cause of cancer death." According to the National Cancer Institute, "On January 1, 2006, in the United States there were approximately 31,180 men and women alive who had a history of cancer of the pancreas." In addition, to these statistics, only 10 per cent live to the two-year mark after diagnosis of cancer of the pancreas.
On average these statistics are the same for both male and female. There is, however, a higher incident in the onset of pancreatic cancer and the chance of death in African-Americans than in Caucasians.
The survival rate for how long a person lives when they are diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas is low because of the lack of early diagnosis. However, this is due mostly because symptoms do not appear in the early stages. By the time people see a physician the cancer may be well advanced. This decreases a person's chance of survival.
Physicians generally tell a person who has just been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas that they will live for up to one year. This is more realistic since it is known that only 10 per cent of the people with pancreatic cancer live up to two years and 3 per cent live up to five years.
What makes one person live under a year and another up to five years or more depends on different factors. These factors are the grade, how soon you discover the cancer, and your overall health.
The grade represents the characteristics of the cancer. There are four grades. These grades are based on size, the appearance and whether the cells look more like normal cells or unlike them. The higher the grade of cancer the quicker it spreads.
The sooner you catch the cancer the better your chances are of living longer. Surgery is more likely when the cancer is smaller. However, even with catching it sooner the percentage does not go up a whole lot. For example, the statistics only increase from 3 to 15 per cent for those that have surgery and live up to five years.
When a person's overall health is good their chances of living longer increase. This is because their body is better able to handle the effects of battling cancer. The doctors rate your overall health condition. The name for it is performance status (PS). This along with your grade of cancer, and how soon it is discovered, gives physicians an overall idea of your life expectancy.
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