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News archive - February/March 2012
Pancreatic cancer survival rates unchanged
WHILST there has been a significant improvement in cancer survival for most cancers over the past forty years, there has been no improvement at all for pancreatic cancer. According to a new study by Macmillan, this remains the worst performing cancer with a median survival rate well under one year.
An analysis of 20 cancers in the UK, including pancreatic cancer, was carried out to determine median survival rates from the early 1970s to 2007. Median survival is calculated as the time it takes until half of those diagnosed have died. Six cancers now have median survival times of more than ten years and some cancers such as colon cancer and non-Hodgkins Lymphoma have seen dramatic improvements.
The low median survival for pancreatic cancer is reflected in the one and five-year survival rates for this disease, which stand at 17% and 3% respectively in the UK. These figures haven’t changed for 40 years, says the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action. Low one year pancreatic cancer survival rates in particular are indicative of later-stage disease at diagnosis borne out by the fact that only 10% of patients are diagnosed in time for surgery, currently the only potential for a cure.
Despite being the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK, killing over 22 people per day, pancreatic cancer receives just 1% of total cancer research says the charity.
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