As of 2015, the mortality rate for patients with all stages of pancreatic cancer ranges from 86 percent to 99 within five years after diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society. The survival rate typically depends on how quickly the cancer was diagnosed and treated.
The pancreas is an organ located behind the stomach, the American Cancer Society explains. It contains two types of glands: endocrine cells that manufacture insulin and other hormones, and exocrine glands, which produce a liquid that helps break down food into nutrients. Both glands can become cancerous, but it is much more likely to develop in the exocrine glands. Rare endocrine cell cancer patients have better chances for a good outcome.
It is difficult to diagnose pancreatic cancer early because there are often no signs or symptoms. Most of the time, the disease has spread from the pancreas by the time patients experience symptoms, explains the American Cancer Society. Common symptoms include digestive problems, jaundice, stomach or back pain, blood clots and changes in fatty tissues that make them look uneven under the skin. Doctors may try a variety of treatments, which include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery to remove the tumor or non-surgical techniques that destroy tumors with extreme heat or cold.