About Pancreatic Cancer

Your pancreas is situated deep inside your chest, within your ribcage, behind your stomach. It is a critical part of your digestive system and secretes pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that help digest food, and it secretes hormones such as insulin that regulate sugar levels in the blood.

It produces many of the digestive juices you need to process food and stay alive.

Pancreatic cancer
Like all other organs, your pancreas can develop cancer. Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the pancreas grow out of control. It can occur in the head, body or tail of the pancreas, but about 70% of pancreatic cancers are found in the head.

Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers and this is because it is almost impossible to detect early. Treatment of pancreatic cancer is also very difficult due to its location and way in which the cancer structure forms.

Pancreatic Cancer facts

  • The five-year survival rate for Pancreatic Cancer is only 9.8%, and this has barely improved in 40 years. This compares to survival rates of 92% in prostate cancer and 90% in breast cancer.

  • This year, virtually the same number of Australians will die of pancreatic cancer as breast cancer.

  • Median life expectancy after diagnosis is less than 12 months for four out of every five patients diagnosed.
  • During 1982 - 2007 40,547 new cases were diagnosed, resulting in 39,323 deaths.

  • The average five years survival rate of all cancers combined has risen from 46.9% to 66.1% (2006 - 2010), however Pancreatic Cancer survival rates rose only 2.2%, from 3.0% to 5.2%.

  • A person is more likely to die of pancreatic cancer in Australia than from a road accident.

  • The Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation is the only Foundation in Australia exclusively dedicated to the disease.

The above statistics are why we exist, and why we are driven to achieve our mission:

‘to dramatically to increase survival rates and quality of life for those Australians impacted by pancreatic cancer.


Sydney Morning Herald, 28 April 2010. 'Australia's most deadly cancer'. http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-and-fitness/australias-most-deadly-cancer-20100428-tqxh.html#ixzz2NCks1UYY, Retrieved 10 September 2018.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 'Cancer compendium: information and trends by cancer type’, Released 18 December 2018https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia/contents/summary

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 'Cancer survival in Australia: period estimate 1982 to 2010’, Released 20 September 2017, https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/da7bff73-5b78-4cf8-a719-5903a75fcc9a/13953.pdf.aspx?inline=true, Retrieved 11 September 2018

Cancer Australia 2014. ‘Cancer research in Australia: An overview of funding to cancer research projects and research program in Australia 2006 - 2011’, 12 January 2015,  https://canceraustralia.gov.au/publications-and-resources/cancer-australia-publications/cancer-research-australia-overview-funding-cancer-research-projects-and-research-programs-australia, Retrieved 11 September 2018