The epidemiology of pancreatic cancer in the United States: changes below the surface

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Jul 1;24(1):87-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2006.02961.x.


Background: Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Aim: To examine temporal changes in the incidence and survival of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Methods: Using data from nine registries of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results programme, age-adjusted incidence rates per 100 000 and survival rates were calculated for pancreatic cancer between 1977 and 2001.

Results: We identified 58 655 cases of pancreatic cancer. The age-adjusted incidence rate remained stable during the study period (11.3 in 1977-1981 and 10.9 in 1997-2001). Overall, men were 30% more affected than women (age-adjusted incidence rate of 13.0 in men and 9.8 in women). The age-adjusted incidence rates were almost 50% higher among Blacks (16.4) than Whites (10.8) and people of other races (9.8). Over time the proportions of patients with localized disease decreased from 12.3% to 7.4% and those with regional disease increased from 18.6% to 25.8%, while metastatic disease remained stable (52.5% vs. 49.8%). The 1-year relative survival increased from 15.2% in 1977-1981 to 21.6% in 1997-2001.

Conclusions: The incidence of pancreatic cancer is stable. A shift from localized to regional disease was observed over time. The overall survival remains poor despite important improvements among patients with early stage disease.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology*
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Rate
  • United States / epidemiology