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Pancreatic cancer stages

  • When diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you will be told at what stage the cancer is.

    Pancreatic cancer stages outline how extensive or advanced your disease is. They can help you and your care team evaluate what pancreatic cancer treatments may help.

    Our doctors use the TNM staging system to define pancreatic cancer stages. T is for "tumor."

    • T1 means the size of the tumor in the pancreas is 2 centimeters or less.
    • T2 means the tumor is more than 2 centimeters across.
    • T3 means the cancer is growing into tissues around the pancreas, in the duodenum or the bile duct.
    • T4 means the cancer has grown into the stomach, spleen, large bowel or nearby large blood vessels.

    N is for "lymph nodes."

    • N0 means no lymph nodes have cancer.
    • N1 means there are lymph nodes which contain cancer cells (cancer in the lymph nodes is a marker for a higher risk of distant spread).
    • pN1a means cancer is in a single nearby lymph node.
    • pN1b means cancer is in more than one lymph node.

    M is for "metastatic spread."

    • M0 means the cancer has not spread into distant organs such as the liver or lungs.
    • M1 means the cancer has spread to other organs.
  • Pancreatic cancer prognosis: What are the chances of surviving cancer of the pancreas?

    Between 2002 and 2006, the average age of Americans who:

    • were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer was 72.
    • died from pancreatic cancer was 73.

    Survival statistics give a general idea of the outlook for pancreatic cancer. They do not decide your personal pancreatic cancer prognosis.

    These numbers are based on Americans who had pancreatic cancer between 1999 and 2005. Ask your doctor or other care team member how they apply to your pancreatic cancer prognosis.

    Overall, the five-year relative survival rate was 5.5 percent. This includes all patients – those who had surgery and those who were not candidates for surgery.

    Five-year relative survival rates according to pancreatic cancer diagnosis are:

    • 22.2 percent for cancer that is in one area and has not spread
    • 8.7 percent for cancer that has gone to lymph nodes and nearby tissue
    • 1.8 percent for cancer that has spread throughout the body

    expand to learn more What does 'five-year relative survival rate' mean?