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Pancreatic cancer cases often advanced at time of diagnosis

Around 40 percent of pancreatic cancer cases found in new patients in 2014 had already spread to other parts of the body, it has been learned from statistics released by the National Cancer Center on Sept. 26.

    The center received diagnosis information for some 670,000 people from 421 cancer treatment centers around the nation. Every year since 2008 it receives and analyzes this information. Until the latest study, the analysis had only been conducted for ailments that affect many people, such as stomach cancer, colon cancer and liver cancer, but this year's statistics included additional cancers like esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer. The study also shows indications of the progression stages of the cancers, shown as stage 0 to stage 4, and what treatment the patients were receiving.

    For colon cancer, which affected the most patients, 35 percent were in the early stages of 0 or 1. For esophageal cancer and prostate cancer patients, about half were in the 0 or 1 stage. Among cervical cancer cases, about 75 percent were in those early stages. Cervical cancer is relatively easy to find, and many municipalities are offering checks for the cancer. Both of these are thought to contribute to many of these cases being found early.

    For lung cancer, meanwhile, most patients were in stage 1 at 40 percent, but also 32 percent of the cases were at stage 4, which means the cancer had spread to other organs. In many cases patients at stage 4 of their disease were only taking anticancer drugs for treatment. The reason that many patients with pancreatic cancer were found at stage 4 is that this cancer has little in the way of symptoms that patients will notice, and in many cases it is undetectable in health checks.

    The statistics were released on the center's website, http://ganjoho.jp (in Japanese).

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