Treatment, Prognosis & Life Expectancy of Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

Submitted by Nic on November 20, 2012

Cancer of the pancreas is known as pancreatic cancer. However, pancreatic cancer may spread to other organs of the body as well. When the cancer affects tissues and cells outside the pancreas, it is said to have metastasized. Metastatic pancreatic cancer is far more dangerous than normal pancreatic cancer. The organs that could be affected include:

  • Liver
  • Lymph nodes
  • Portal vein
  • Celiac plexus (a network of nerves around aorta)
  • Superior mesenteric vessels
  • Ligament of treitz

This disease not only makes it difficult for the patient to cope, but it also makes it difficult for the doctor to remove the cancer surgically, reducing treatment options.


Treatment of this disease can be achieved with surgery and/or chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is generally preferred when it comes to metastatic pancreatic cancer. Although chemotherapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer treatment is a suitable option, doctors consider it only in the advanced stages when surgical removal of cancer cells is not possible.

The location of the neoplasm in the pancreas decides the icd9 code for metastatic pancreatic cancer. Following are the different codes given according to the location in the pancreas:

  • 157.0 for the head
  • 157.1 for the body
  • 157.2 for the tail
  • 157.3 for the duct

Metastatic pancreatic cancer is one of the worst forms of pancreatic cancer and is very difficult to treat as well as diagnose. It is better to consult an oncologist before taking any measures.


Metastatic pancreatic cancer prognosis is poor. This is because by the time the cancer is diagnosed, it probably already too late for surgery. Why? Pancreatic cancer shows almost no symptoms in its early stages, and by the time diagnosis is carried out, the disease has already developed to an advanced localized or a metastatic type. As a result, treatment is aimed at palliative care, which is easing symptoms and improving quality of life.

Life Expectancy

For someone suffering from metastatic pancreatic cancer, life expectancy is not very good. Cancer in any form requires proper care and adequate amount of treatment in order to prolong the life expectancy. However, in metastatic pancreatic cancer, the life expectancy of patients in their advanced stages has a median survival of 6 to 10 months, because by this time the cancer has already spread to other important organs of the body. For all the combined stages, the relative life expectancy for one year is only 25%.


  • http://pathology.jhu.edu/pc/DiagMetastasis.php?area=di
  • http://pathology.jhu.edu/pc/TreatmentChemo.php?area=tr
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