Trends in the treatment and outcome of pancreatic cancer in the United States

Nancy N. Baxter, Bryan A. Whitson, Todd M. Tuttle

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127 Scopus citations


Background: Although pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death, few studies have evaluated population-based trends in diagnosis, management, and outcome. Methods: We used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry to evaluate treatment trends and outcomes for patients 18 or older with pancreatic adenocarcinoma diagnosed from 1988 through 2002. Results: We identified 38,073 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over this 15-year period; the age-adjusted incidence did not change over this period. Most patients were diagnosed with metastatic disease (50.3%), few of whom underwent irradiation or cancer-directed surgery (CDS). For patients with localized or regional disease (32.9%), 53% underwent some form of treatment. Importantly, the rate of CDS increased from 19% in 1988 to 35% in 2002 (P < 0.0001). In multivariate analysis, young age, married status, and localized disease were associated with significantly higher CDS rates. For patients with nonmetastatic disease, 2-year survival rate increased from 8% in 1988 to 15% in 2000. For patients with non-metastatic cancer who survived at least 3 months, CDS was associated with a significantly higher 2-year survival rate (CDS, 36%; non-CDS, 10%). Conclusions: Most patients with pancreatic cancer, even at the end of our 15-year study period, still presented with metastatic disease, and the survival rate for such patients did not change in a meaningful way over time. The proportion of patients with nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer who underwent potentially curative surgery increased over time in the U.S.; the 2-year survival rate for such patients improved, but remained poor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1320-1326
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Todd M. Tuttle, MD, MS, Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA; E-mail: This research was supported, in part, by the University of Minnesota Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Tuttle is supported by a University of Minnesota Cancer Center Clinical Scholar Award. Dr. Baxter is supported by an American Society of Clinical Oncology Career Development Award.


  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Population
  • Treatment
  • Trends


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