Background

Overview

In March 2020, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Ageing, invited Cancer Australia to work with the Department of Health to develop a National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap (the Roadmap) to improve outcomes and survival for Australians affected by pancreatic cancer. 

Over the last 40 years the number of Australians diagnosed with pancreatic cancer has more than tripled and the five-year relative survival rates remain very low compared with most other cancer types. Pancreatic cancer is currently the third leading cause of cancer death in Australia and has a disproportionate impact on a range of priority population groups.

The Roadmap provides a national focus on priorities for improving outcomes and survival for Australians affected by pancreatic cancer. Thirty-three key priority areas and 60 strategies for collective action over the next five years, set a shared agenda to drive improvements in pancreatic care, experiences and outcomes across the continuum of care from prevention, early detection, presentation, diagnosis, treatment, supportive care, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

The Roadmap is for the Australian community, including people affected by pancreatic cancer, health professionals, clinical colleges, researchers, pancreatic cancer organisations, funders, peak bodies, non-government and government organisations. 

The Roadmap provides the opportunity to focus efforts on the issues that will make a significant difference to all Australians impacted by pancreatic cancer and the national collective response to the Roadmap will allow Australia to lead the world in improving outcomes and survival in pancreatic cancer. 

Context

Pancreatic cancer is currently the eighth leading cause of cancer incidence but the third leading cause of cancer mortality in Australia.¹ In 2021, over 4,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with, and over 3,000 Australians are expected to die from, pancreatic cancer.¹

There are currently no data available on stage at diagnosis for pancreatic cancer in Australia. However, international data suggest that the majority of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage. For example, around half (49.5%) of all pancreatic cancers in 2009–2018 in the United States were diagnosed at the distant stage, 29% at the regional stage, and only 12% at the localised stage.²

Data from the United States also show that five-year relative survival rates are higher for patients diagnosed with localised tumours (35.6%), compared with those diagnosed with tumours with regional spread (12.5%) and tumours with distant spread (3.4%).³

In Australia, the five-year relative survival rate for pancreatic cancer has increased marginally over the last 30 years from 3.3% (1988–1992) to 11.8% (2013–2017) but remains low compared with a survival rate of 69.7% for all cancers combined.¹

Click here for more information about pancreatic cancer.

Click here for more information on pancreatic cancer data.

Click here for more information on development of the Roadmap.

References

1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021. Cancer data in Australia. Cat. no. CAN 122. Accessed: November 2021;

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-data-in-australia

2. National Cancer Institute 2021. SEER*Explorer: An interactive website for SEER cancer statistics. Accessed: November 2021;

https://seer.cancer.gov/explorer/application.html?site=40&data_type=1&graph_type=4&compareBy=sex&chk_sex_1=1&chk_
sex_3=3&chk_sex_2=2&race=1&age_range=1&advopt_precision=1&advopt_display=2

3. Khalaf N, El-Serag HB, Abrams HR, et al. Burden of pancreatic cancer: from epidemiology to practice. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021; 19(5):876-884

Last updated: 31 March 2022