The American Cancer Society just released their report on the latest cancer statistics, and the news is good! Although cancer continues to be the #2 cause of death in the United States, the risk of dying from cancer has decreased over the past 29 years. (see https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/facts-and-figures-2023 ). This translates into 3.8 million deaths from cancer were averted over these years.
Slight improvements were seen in the pancreatic cancer numbers. The American Cancer Society estimates that 64,050 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2023, and that 50,550 will die from the disease. Of note, the five-year survival rate for individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the years 1975-1977 was 3%, while for individuals diagnosed in the years 2012-2018 it rose to 12%! While 12% is still way too low, these numbers do offer hope!
In particular, as we noted in an earlier post, it seems that more pancreatic cancers are being detected earlier (at a low stage), and the outcome is much better the earlier cancers are detected (see Recent Trends in the Incidence and Survival of Stage 1A Pancreatic Cancer: A Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Analysis – PMC (nih.gov))
We believe that the combination of earlier detection and improved therapies will make a difference, and that that we can do much better than 12% survival at 5 years. Importantly, we should all remember Stephen Jay Gould’s words that “the median is not the message.” (The Median Isn’t the Message | Journal of Ethics | American Medical Association (ama-assn.org)) Many individuals live longer than the median. We should all remain hopeful.