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Pancreatic cancer


Pancreatic cancer occurs at an incidence of approximately 10 per 100,000 per year. Due to the aggressiveness of this tumor and difficult early diagnosis the mortality rate is virtually equal to the incidence (10 per 100,000).

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and women (following lung, colon, breast, and prostate cancers) and is responsible for 5% of all cancer-related deaths.

Estimated new cases and deaths from pancreatic cancer in the United States in 2005:

  • New cases: 32,180.
  • Deaths: 31,800.


Pancreatic cancer is slightly higher in males than in females especially in younger populations.


The disease incidence peaks between the age of 67 and 79 and is rare below the age of 40.

Race and ethnicity

Blacks are more at risk than whites (50% excess risk). Black males have the highest incidence of pancreatic cancer worldwide.


Pancreatic cancer incidence and mortality statistics are similar throughout the world. The reasons for the slight regional and ethnic differences in the incidence of pancreatic cancer are unknown, but this may be due to a trend toward a decline in tobacco use in certain groups and regions. Incidence rates are highest in industrialized societies and western countries. In Japan, cigarette smoking carries an even greater risk, which can be as much as 10-fold in men smoking one to two packs of cigarettes daily. 

  • In Europe, rates are highest in the Nordic countries.
  • In the United States, rates are particularly high in native Hawaiians, African Americans, and Korean Americans, with the highest rates in African Americans. The fact that the rates in African Americans are considerably higher than in native Africans suggests an environmental influence.
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