UK Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis and Survival Rates

The pancreatic cancer survival rates in the table below reflect that pancreatic cancer prognosis is poor and are attributable to the fact that pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage where the cancer has progressed to a point where surgical removal is impossible. However,  patients who are diagnosed in time for surgery do considerably better and have a > 30% chance of surviving beyond five years after diagnosis ((Ghaneh et al., (2008) neoadjuvant and adjuvant strategies for pancreatic cancer EJSO 34 297-305)) This is why we at Pancreatic Cancer Action are campaigning for earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and developing educational and awareness programmes for the public and medical communities so more people can be diagnosed in time for surgery – currently the only potential for a cure.

UK and Ireland Relative Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rates (1 & 5 years):

Now includes data from the Republic of Ireland

rel survival 2012 stats 4

What is relative survival?

Relative survival is an estimate of the observed survival divided by the expected probability of survival in the general population. This can be thought of as a measure of the net survival expectation after contracting cancer, or the probability of survival from cancer in the absence of other causes of death.


England1; Wales2; Scotland3; Northern Ireland4; Republic of Ireland5

Diagnosis periods:

England: figures from those diagnosed between 2005-2009 & followed up to 2010

Wales: 1-yr figures from those diagnosed between 2005-2009; 5-yr figures from those diagnosed between 2000-2004

Scotland: figures from those diagnosed between 2004-2007

N.Ireland: 1-yr figures from those diagnosed between 2006-2010 and are estimates using the ‘period’ method. (see notes). 5-yr figures from those diagnosed between 2001-2005

Rep of Ireland:  Figures from those diagnosed between 2007 and 2009, 5-year survival uses hybrid approach.

* Ten-year survival predicted for patients diagnosed in 2007 (using the hybrid approach): England and Wales

Trends over time and survival by age group: one and five year survival in England:

1 yr survival trend England 1998-2009


five year survival trend England 1998-2008

1 yr survival by age group to 2009
















five year survival by age group 2005-2009

Cancer networks/Strategic clinical networks:

The NHS Cancer Plan (2000) established cancer networks as the organisational model that would bring about change and address the cancer plan agenda. Since then, other key pieces of national and regional guidance (such as the Cancer Reform Strategy 2007) have identified cancer networks as key players in the delivery of improvements to cancer services. A cancer network is an organisational model, or a ‘way of working’. They bring together providers(organisations that provide services) and commissioners (organisations that plan, purchase and monitor services), as well as local authoritiesvoluntary and charity organisations and users of cancer services (patients and their carers) to work collaboratively as a system, to plan and deliver high quality cancer services for a given population.

The 28 Cancer Networks in England will cease to exist after 31st March 2013

Instead, the NHS Commissioning Board has divided England into 12 areas each of which will include a Strategic Clinical Network to focus on cancer from April 1st 2013. There are some fears among the cancer community that the good work that has been achieved through the old cancer network system could be lost and that there will be fewer staff and smaller budgets available.

Strategic clinical networks map

The 12 Strategic Cancer Network areas in England

One and five year survival by cancer network :

Only four of England’s Cancer Networks matches the European average for one- year pancreatic cancer survival according to an NCIN report in 20086  There is also a vast difference in one-year survival rates between the Cancer Networks.  We do not yet understand exactly why these inequalities exist and a link between deprivation and pancreatic cancer survival may be one of the reasons7

 one year survival by cancer network

5-yr survival by cancer network































Survival comparison with other tumour sites 1971-20098

5yr survival comparison by tumour site 1971 to 2009

Survival comparisons with other countries:

The following table shows comparisons between the UK and other major Western nations, Australia, Canada and the USA for one-and five-year relative survival. The UK lags behind these nations for both one-and five-year survival:

survival comparisons with other countries


Australia: 9 Canada ((Statistics Canada (2010) An update on cancer survival 2004-2006. Health Reports Vol 21 No. 3))  USA10

One-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer in the UK lag behind the European average according to EUROCARE Study (2009):

The one-year UK pancreatic cancer relative survival rate lags behind the rest of Europe; the UK average is 17 per cent, the European average is 21 per cent and the best in Europe (Belgium) is 28 per cent.

The Cancer Reform Strategy in 200711 highlighted the requirement for one-year survival data as a proxy for early/late stage at diagnosis. This was due to the lack of availability of population-based staging data for most sites of cancer.

One of the conclusions of the EUROCARE study in 200912

was that poor one-year survival could be an indication of later stage disease at diagnosis and the potential to improve these figures could lie in earlier diagnosis of the disease.


Eurocare comparisons of pancreatic cancer survival




  1. Office for National Statistics Statistical Bulletin: Cancer Survival in England patients diagnosed 2005-2009 followed up to 2010 accessed 20/04/2012 
  2. Welsh Cancer Intelligence & Surveillance Unit Cancer in Wales: A comprehensive report Published September 2011. 
  3. ISD Scotland – patients diagnosed between 2003 and 2007 
  4. Northern Ireland Cancer Registry Cancer Statistics, Pancreas 
  6.  NCIN (2008) One year survival, by Cancer Network, England, for patients diagnosed 2000-2004 (accessed 31/07/2012 
  7. Coupland et al., (2012) Incidence and survival for hepatic, pancreatic and biliary cancers in England between 1998 and 2007 Cancer Epidemiology (accessed 31/07/2012 

CRUK CancerStats available online (accessed 17/08/2012 

  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Cancer Survival and Prevalence in Australia: period estimates from 1982-2010. Cancer Series No 69. Cat No CAN65. Canberra: AIHW 
  • American Cancer Society Facts and Figures 2012 

  • Department of Health (2007) Cancer Reform Strategy (ref 283524). DH Publications: London 
  • Cancer survival in England and the influence of early diagnosis: what can we learn from recent

    EUROCARE results? British Journal of Cancer (2009) 101, S102–S109.

    doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6605399 Published online 3 December 2009 

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