Survival statistics for pancreatic cancer

Survival statistics for pancreatic cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for pancreatic cancer and what they mean to you.

Net survival

Net survival represents the probability of surviving cancer in the absence of other causes of death. It is used to give an estimate of the percentage of people who will survive their cancer.

In Canada, the 5-year net survival for pancreatic cancer is 10%. This means that about 10% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive for at least 5 years.

Survival by stage

Survival varies with each stage of pancreatic cancer.

  • Pancreatic cancer usually grows quickly and has a poor prognosis.
  • Generally, the earlier pancreatic cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
  • Often pancreatic cancer is not found until it is at an advanced stage, where the tumour has spread or cannot be removed with surgery, which can make it somewhat more difficult to treat.
  • Pancreatic cancer often comes back after treatment (recurs) even after it is completely removed with surgery.

Survival by stage for pancreatic cancer is reported as 5-year observed survival. Observed survival is the percentage of people with a particular cancer who are alive at a certain point in time. Observed survival does not consider the cause of death, so the people who are not alive 5 years after their diagnosis could have died from cancer or another cause.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of pancreatic cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It may include statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada.

Pancreatic cancer survival


5-year observed survival


15% to 20%

Locally advanced




Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about your prognosis. A prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • the type of cancer
  • the stage
  • certain characteristics of the cancer
  • the treatments chosen
  • how the cancer responds to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Pancreatic Cancer. 2016.
  • Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee . Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019 . Toronto, ON : Canadian Cancer Society ; 2019 :
  • Pancreatic cancer. Cancer Research UK. CancerHelp UK. Cancer Research UK; 2012.
  • Dragovich, T . Pancreatic cancer. Omaha: eMedicine, Inc; 2013.
  • Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021. Canadian Cancer Society; 2021.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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