Pancreas is a gland, which is located at the back of the upper stomach, closer to the backbone. The function of this gland is to make pancreatic juices, insulin, etc. Cancer is a condition in which there is growth and division of cells in an unrestrained manner. When the cells in the body become cancerous, the control mechanisms in the body that manage cell growth fail to function. The cells continue to grow uncontrollably and over a period of time, a malignant tumor is formed.
The cells invade the surrounding tissues and spread to the surrounding organs. Some forms of cancer can be identified in the early stages; however, pancreatic cancer is not one of them. Usually, its symptoms are not seen easily. The cancer often grows for some time before it can be detected. It can be detected when there is pressure in the abdomen, pain, or any other problem. More often than not, the cancer spreads to multiple areas around the pancreas before it can be detected. Therefore, life expectancy with pancreatic cancer depends on when the cancer was detected, how fast is it spreading, etc.
Often due to the location of the pancreas, it is thought that pancreatic cancer is not treatable, therefore quick death is imminent. In some cases, cancer treatment may not work, or the cancer may have advanced to the last stage, which may cause death. However, if the disease is identified in time, there are various ways in which the spread of the disease can be brought under control.
The most important point to determine life expectancy is how early was the cancer diagnosed. More often than not, if the disease is identified in the early stages, it is possible to bring the disease under control easily, and thereby increase the life expectancy. There are some reports which say that the survival rate for patients with pancreatic cancer for 5 years after it has been diagnosed is about 12 to 20 percent. However, it has been noted that with proper treatment and care, the patients have lived much longer as well.
If the cancer has been diagnosed in the fourth stage, then, as is the case with other forms of cancer, the survival rate dips down considerably. After the person has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the later stages, his life expectancy is anywhere around 5 to 10 months. However, about 20 percent patients are known to live more than a year as well. At the same time, there are some patients who have also lived for as long as 5 years. The number is low at 5 percent, but yet cannot be neglected.
There are alternative cancer treatments which may help increase the patient's chances of survival. The person should be able to find the right treatment suitable for his condition to be able to benefit from it.
Although there is treatment available for this cancer, reaching the pancreas sometimes proves to be difficult due to its location. The condition worsens, when the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, especially the blood vessels and the lymph nodes, where expelling the cells becomes virtually impossible, even with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
Thinking about the life expectancy will not help the patient, but add to his agony and ruin the quality of his life. Therefore, the patient should face this deadly disease with sheer grit and determination, and try to spend the rest of his life happily.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.