Pancreatic cancer progression is broken down into stages, with there being four main stages and two sub-stages. Stages I and II are the least severe, while States III and IV mean that cancer has been found in other organs far away from the pancreas. Treatment is most effective if the cancer is caught early.
The first stage in pancreatic cancer progression is stage I. During this stage, cancer cells are only found on the pancreas itself and they have not moved into the surrounding ducts, lymph nodes, or beyond. This is the easiest stage to treat and survival rates are much higher for stage I cancers than for more progressed stages. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer has vague symptoms and often none at all, so catching it in its earliest stage is difficult.
Stage II is the second stage of pancreatic cancer progression, when cancer cells have spread beyond the pancreas and into the surrounding organs, such as the bile duct, but have not yet moved into the lymph nodes. This stage is still fairly easy to treat in comparison to the later stages, but it is still difficult to catch.
The next stage of pancreatic cancer progression is stage III. During this stage, cancerous cells or tumors are found in the pancreas and also in surrounding organs or in the lymph nodes closets to the pancreas. Treatment is much more difficult during stage III cancer, and survival rates begin to decline rapidly once the disease has reached this level.
Stages IV-A and IV-B are the most severe stages of pancreatic cancer progression because during these stages the cancer has spread into organs farther from the pancreas throughout the rest of the body. Stage IV-A means that organs closer to the pancreas have been affected, although they are farther than the lymph nodes. Stage IV-B means any organs may have been impacted, including the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, or brain.
Each patient may have a slightly different pancreatic cancer progression. Cancers can spread quickly or very slowly, or they may begin slowly and progress with greater speed over time. This is why survival rates vary from individual to individual. Pancreatic cancer is generally an aggressive type, and cases are not normally discovered until the disease has metastasized.
Treatments for cancer of the pancreas include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. A combination of two of more of these therapies may be used to increase effectiveness. Even with early and aggressive treatment, pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms, and the prognosis is not good for most patients.