Patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer typically have a poor prognosis partly because the cancer usually causes no symptoms early on, leading to locally advanced or metastatic disease at time of diagnosis. Median survival from diagnosis is around 3 to 6 months; 5-year survival is less than 5%.
With 37,170 cases diagnosed in the United States in 2007, and 33,700 deaths, pancreatic cancer has one of the highest fatality rates of all cancers and is the fourth highest cancer killer in the United States among both men and women. Although it accounts for only 2.5% of new cases, pancreatic cancer is responsible for 6% of cancer deaths each year.
Pancreatic cancer may occasionally result in diabetes. Insulin production is hampered and it has been suggested that the cancer can also prompt the onset of diabetes and vice versa. Thus diabetes is both a risk factor for the development of pancreatic cancer and diabetes can be an early sign of the disease in the elderly.
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