Prognosis of adenocarcinoma of the pancreas has remained poor, but a few patients are reported to live 5 years or longer after the diagnosis. Using the data of the Finnish Cancer Registry, we could identify only 78 patients (1.3%) who had survived for longer than 5 years after the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer among 5,837 patients diagnosed in Finland in 1975-1984. However, in 33 of the 78 cases a histological diagnosis of pancreatic cancer had never been made, and the majority of the remaining 45 patients turned out not to have pancreatic adenocarcinoma after a review. The results suggest that the majority of patients with long-term survival following the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer have never had pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Taking a biopsy from a suspected pancreatic neoplasm and careful histological evaluation may prohibit misdiagnosis of this highly lethal disease.