Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer – Symptoms, Survival Rate, Life expectancy


What is Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer develops in tissues of the pancreas, an organ that is present below stomach and takes an active part in the digestive system. The condition of pancreatic cancer develops in men whose ages are between 30-70 years. After lung, rectal and breast cancer, it the fourth most common type of cancer. In pancreatic cancer, the carcinogenic cells develop in pancreatic ducts and forms adenocarcinoma. The cancerous cell slowly starts spreading and invades the nearby tissues resulting in pancreatic cancer. Research shows that pancreatic tumor generally develops due to damaged genes, but the exact reason behind gene damage causing the cancer is still unknown. Sometimes, exposure to cancer causing agents like tobacco, chemicals and food additives triggers the formation of tumor in pancreatic ducts. Pancreatic cancer is generally common in obese people.

Stage IV pancreatic cancer


Picture 1 – pancreatic cancer. Source – cancer.gov

Symptoms of stage 4 pancreatic cancer

The spread of pancreatic cancer in the body occurs through lymphatic system. Once the cancerous cells spread in other body parts, it is referred as metastatic pancreatic cancer. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is known as deadliest cancerous form as it spreads silently without indication many symptoms.  If the conditions are diagnosed in time, then the patient can undergo proper medication to combat the condition.  However, there is no cure available at stage 4 cancer. Medication can increase the span of life up to few years.  Mentioned below are the symptoms of the condition.

  •    Patient suffering from stage 4 pancreatic undergoes tremendous weight loss and becomes leaner.
  •    A patient suffering from the condition experiences continuous abdominal pain.
  •    Frequent lower back pain is common in stage four pancreatic cancers.
  •    Patient suffering from the condition becomes frequent victim of jaundice and diarrhea.
  •    Fever, vomiting and nausea are common in the patients suffering from stage four pancreatic cancers.
  •    The patient of pancreatic cancer also suffers  from anxiety, depression and a premonition of impending death
  •    Abnormal fluid retention in pancreatic ducts also signifies the presence of pancreatic tumor.
  •    Patient suffering from the condition experiences difficulty in the digestive process if the consumed food is rich in fat content.
  •    Excessive bile accumulation in the skin causes itching and irritation.

Generally, it is very difficult to diagnose pancreatic cancer in early stages. A symptom of the condition depends   on the location and condition of tumor. Mostly people misunderstood the signs of early stages of pancreatic cancer with other nonserious digestive problems. The cancerous cell silently affects the nearby tissues in pancreases that increase the probability of death in patients.  According to the oncologists, patients who are above 50 years diagnosed with diabetes and experiences frequent weight loss are at risk of developing pancreatic cancer.



Stages of pancreatic cancer. Stage IV circled red

Picture 2 – Stage IV circled. Source – safealive.com


Survival rate and life expectancy of Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

Stage 4 pancreatic cancers are often referred as advanced pancreatic cancer. Survival rate of stage 4 pancreatic cancer is less than 5 percent. Through the process of metastasis, the cancerous cells from pancreases travel to other parts of the body. Survival rate of patient suffering from stage 4 cancer depends on the ratio of spread of carcinogenic cells in other parts of the body. Treatment is possible if the symptoms are detected in early stages. When the carcinogenic cell migrates toward brain, the patient feels dizziness, difficulty in vision and severe headaches. The patient often experiences seizure attack. Very few cases have been registered in which patient suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer lives five years more after the detection of the condition. However, with the advancement in healthcare technologies, the survival rate in stage 4 pancreatic cancer has improved.

Prognosis of Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

The condition of stage 4 pancreatic cancer is known to have a poor prognosis.  When compared with other forms of cancer, the median survival rate even after diagnosis at an early stage is worst. In early stages, if the tumor with less than 3cm of diameter is removed than the patients can expect long life expectancy.  But the aggressive nature of the cancer and lower diagnostic rate makes the condition worse. Five year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancers is less than 5 percent that indicates that 95 percent of patients diagnosed with the condition might not live up to 5 years.

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