Unfortunately, the prognosis of a Stage IV pancreatic patient is bleak, with only a 1 percent survival rate five years after diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society. If patients have been treated with surgery, their chances of survival may increase.
For patients with Stage IV pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, the survival rate was better, at 16 percent five years after diagnosis, the American Cancer Society reports. The survival rate for Stage IV cancer was the same whether the tumors were removed surgically or not. These tumors do not produce hormones, so they are difficult to detect, with most discovered after they have become large or spread outside the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer tends to be aggressive, spreading rapidly, according to Mayo Clinic. It is rarely found in early stages, which is one of the reasons it has such a poor prognosis. Risk factors include smoking, a family history of pancreatic cancer, diabetes, pancreatitis and a family history of genetic syndromes that create a higher cancer risk. People who are obese and of African-American descent are also more at risk.
Symptoms include unexplained weight loss, depression, blood clots, jaundice and loss of appetite, Mayo Clinic reports. Patients sometimes also experience upper stomach pain that radiates to the back.