As a group, pancreatic cancers come with a very low survival rate — 75 percent of patients die less than a year after diagnosis, and 94 percent die within five years, according to the PCAN.
What is it about pancreatic cancer that makes it so lethal?
One reason, Duff said, is that the cancer is usually not found until its late stages. "By the time most patients are diagnosed, the disease has already spread," she said.
The cancer often escapes early detection because patients display few warning signs that anything is wrong. When patients do experience symptoms, they are often vague aches and pains, such as indigestion or back pain, that can be attributed to other ailments. And unlike for breast cancer or prostate cancer, there are no screening tools available for pancreatic cancer, she said.
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