5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer reaches new high

LOS ANGELES — The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has reached an all-time high of 12%, the American Cancer Society announced on Thursday, Jan. 12, marking the first time since 2017 the rate has increased two consecutive years.

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The upward trend points to continued progress in the fight against the notoriously tough disease, a result of increased research funding for early detection and better treatment options, the ACS Cancer Facts & Figures 2023 report suggests.

While the increase of five percentage points in the survival rate over the last decade signifies progress, the report also found that an estimated 64,050 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2023, an increase of nearly 3% over 2022.

Pancreatic cancer remains the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths, but it is on track to become the second-leading cause of cancer-related death by 2030, according to the ACS.

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“For a disease as difficult as pancreatic cancer, an annual increase of one percentage point is an important and encouraging milestone that shows we’re headed in the right direction and our comprehensive approach is working,” Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, said in a statement.

“But 12% is still the lowest five-year survival rate of all major cancers, so we need to build on this momentum by continuing to fund research to find an early detection strategy and better treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients.”

Historically, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer has been low. With no standard early detection method and often only vague symptoms, the disease is typically diagnosed too late once it has already spread, meaning surgery is no longer a possibility, and chemotherapy treatment options are limited, experts said.

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PanCAN has set a goal to see the five-year survival rate increase to 20% by 2030.

“It’s an exciting time for PanCAN and the field of pancreatic cancer research as a whole,” said Lynn Matrisian, PanCAN’s chief science officer. “We have a robust research community passionate about improving the lives of patients with pancreatic cancer. And their work is leading to real progress.”

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