Pancreatic Cancer in the USA: Persistence of Undertreatment and Poor Outcome

Lindsey Enewold, Linda C. Harlan, Thomas Tucker, Shaun McKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Purpose: Despite decades of research, consensus on optimal treatment for pancreatic cancer has not been reached and survival remains bleak. This study aimed to evaluate predictors of treatment and survival among patients treated in community settings. Methods: A sample of pancreatic cancer patients who were diagnosed in 2009 and reported to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program (n = 977) was included. Logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with therapy modality. Survival was examined using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards regression. All analyses were conducted stratified by tumor stage. Results: Among stages I–II patients, 27 % received no treatment and only 47 % received surgery. Among these patients, no treatment was associated with older age, being a woman, not being married, lower income, and larger or unknown tumor size. Additionally, the type of adjuvant therapy received varied by tumor characteristics, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The most common therapies for stage III tumors were chemoradiation (40.8 %) and chemotherapy (21.9 %) alone. Half of stage IV patients received chemotherapy; chemotherapy was less common in patients who were older, in a minority race/ethnicity, and not married. Although treatment was associated with better prognosis, even among stages I–II patients who underwent surgery, a quarter succumbed to their disease within 17 months. Conclusion: A significant proportion of pancreatic cancer patients remain undertreated primarily due to nonclinical factors, including marital status. Further investigating what aspects of marriage are contributing to this association will provide a better understanding of pancreatic cancer treatment barriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-20
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 27 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Chemotherapy
  • Descriptive
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Radiation
  • SEER
  • Surgery
  • Survival
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology


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