Pancreatic Cancer Incidence & Mortality
Despite the efforts of researchers and clinicians over the past fifty years, conventional therapies for pancreatic cancer, such as surgery, irradiation and chemotherapy, have had little impact on the treatment of the disease. Pancreatic cancer is a disease with an extremely poor prognosis as patients are diagnosed with the disease in its later stages, and the cancer is rapidly progressive. Pancreatic cancer therefore has a high morbidity and mortality rate, which is associated with its late diagnosis.
Unfortunately, only about 20% of patients that present with clinical symptoms have a tumour that may be removed by surgery, and only 20% of these have a reasonably long survival. Pancreatic cancer has therefore proven to be one of the most devastating and lethal human cancers that persists as a major unresolved health problem.
The most recent Australian cancer statistics (2009) report that 2204 people died of pancreatic cancer in Australia that year, compared to 2772 women dying of breast cancer, 3111 men of prostate cancer, 2324 of bowel cancer and 7781 of lung cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the 6th highest cause of death for all cancer types in Australia, and only about 6% of persons with this cancer survive 5 years after diagnosis.
This number represents a poor outcome for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer compared to a 5-year survival of 88% for breast cancer, 93% for thyroid cancer and 19% for lung cancer.