Why is data on pancreatic cancer important?

We need good data on pancreatic cancer in order to fully understand the disease.

Please note this page contains data on pancreatic cancer survival. These are general statistics for large groups of people, so they can’t tell you what will happen in your own case or that of a loved one.

We need good data on pancreatic cancer in order to fully understand the disease. It helps Governments, the health service, charities and the pancreatic cancer community as a whole to track progress towards improving outcomes and survival of the disease, understand what needs prioritising and focus research funding to make the most impact.

Data explained

Pancreatic cancers are divided into two main types:

  • Exocrine tumours are the most common and start in the exocrine cells of the pancreas, where enzymes which help digest food are made. The most common type of pancreatic cancer is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), which is a type of exocrine tumour.
  • Endocrine tumours (also called neuroendocrine tumours or PNET) start in the endocrine cells. They produce hormones that help control the level of sugar in the blood.

In the past we haven’t known enough about what proportion of pancreatic cancer cases are PDAC and which are PNET, and how each of these two main types of pancreatic cancer affects overall survival.

That is why we funded our own data analysis* looking at incidence and survival of these two main types. For this, we used national data (for England only) during the period of 2010-2013.

What did the data tell us?

Through our analysis we found that 95% of all pancreatic cancer cases are PDAC. Five year survival of PDAC is only 3.2%. One per cent of pancreatic cancer cases are other types of exocrine tumours.

PNET tumours make up 4% of pancreatic cancer cases. Five year survival of PNETs is higher, at 34.4%.

Although PNET tumours make up only 4% of all pancreatic cancer cases, when combined with exocrine tumours, overall survival of pancreatic cancer looks higher than it really is.

We know these figures might be frightening if you have been diagnosed with PDAC. Remember though that these are based on large groups of people and can’t tell you about your own situation. Speak to your doctor about your own situation. And you can speak to our specialist nurses on our Support Line if you have found this upsetting or have any questions.

Call the specialist nurses free on 0808 801 0707 or write to them here.

Pdac And Pnet Percentage Of Patients Diagnosed

Pdac And Pnet 5 Year Survival

“There is much work to be done to give everyone with pancreatic cancer a fair chance of survival and we are at a critical point in making real progress with the disease. Investing in this data analysis to ensure we understand as much as we can about pancreatic cancer was an absolute priority for us. It will enable us to continue to make a difference for everyone with pancreatic cancer by funding research, providing services for anyone affected and campaigning for the disease to be prioritised by Governments.” Diana Jupp, CEO, Pancreatic Cancer UK

How will Pancreatic Cancer UK use this data?

Urgent change and progress must be achieved for everyone with all types of pancreatic cancer whether PDAC and PNET, as overall the cancer has the lowest survival of all the common cancers.

At Pancreatic Cancer UK, we will be calling for:

  • Data to be broken down by the two main types from now on as well as having access to the data on all types of pancreatic cancer combined. This will enable us to build improved knowledge and understanding about the disease and help us focus our efforts on bringing about change.
  • Transform the future for pancreatic cancer patients and families through increased investment in research. We will continue to call for a minimum annual investment of £25m in pancreatic cancer research
  • Everyone with pancreatic cancer to get the best possible care and treatment and for there to be rapid implementation of the NICE guidelines for the disease
  • Far more patients to be diagnosed earlier, when the one potentially life-saving treatment of surgery may be an option.

Current survival reported for pancreatic cancer is 7% (based on the latest data from 2010-2014)**. We would however expect this number to change if we were to do an analysis of this specific data and if it were broken down into the individual pancreatic cancer types. As mentioned above the date range of the data we looked at as part of this new analysis was 2010-2013.

How can I help?

It is thanks to your support that we are able to fund important work such as this. Help us to take on this tough cancer together.

If you want to be kept updated about our work sign up for our newsletter.

Make a donation or raise funds for us today to help us change the future for those affected by pancreatic cancer.

Thank you.

If you have any questions about anything you read on this page speak to our specialist nurses on our Support Line. They can answer your questions and talk through any worries.

Call the specialist nurses free on 0808 801 0707 or write to them here.


If you are health professional, charity, researcher or academic, you are welcome to quote these statistics in your work but please quote Pancreatic Cancer UK as the primary source.

*Conducted by the Cancer Survival Group in London School of Hygiene &Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) led by Prof Michel Coleman.

**5-year survival for 2010-2014 by UK country (CONCORD-3)

England 7.0%
N. Ireland 6.2%
Scotland 5.6%
Wales 5.7%

Cancer Registration

When a person is diagnosed with cancer in the UK information about them is automatically included in their national cancer registry.

It is data from cancer registries that tells us how many people are diagnosed with cancer, what treatments they have, how long they live, and whether this is getting better or worse. This information can then be used to help plan cancer services and identify where further progress is needed in order to improve the lives of all people affected by cancer.

Read more information on Cancer Registration in England, or download a copy of the Cancer Registration information leaflet.