Pancreatic cancer is the 5th leading cause of death from cancer and the 11th most common cancer in the United States1; each year 24,000 people die of pancreatic cancer in this country. The incidence of pancreatic cancer increased dramatically several decades ago, but it has remained fairly stable over the past 15 years (9.1 per 100,000). Although the five-year survival rate has improved only slightly in recent years (from 3 percent in 1970 through 1973 to 5.4 percent in 1981 through 1987 among whites and from 2 percent to 4.3 percent during the same periods among blacks), nearly all patients with the disease die of it, and most die within one year of diagnosis.
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