NICE has published NICE Guideline (NG) 85 on Pancreatic cancer in adults: diagnosis and management.

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in UK adults, and life expectancy at diagnosis is 4 to 6 months on average. Part of the reason for this is that the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are non-specific, and can be mistaken for other more common conditions with a similar presentation. Even after a diagnosis is made, how this is acted upon varies across England.

Because of late diagnosis, only around 8% of people with pancreatic cancer are eligible for potentially curative surgery. People have a greater chance of surviving 5 years if their tumour can be surgically removed and they have adjuvant chemotherapy. 

NICE NG85 makes recommendations about:

  • diagnosis
  • specialist pancreatic multidisciplinary teams
  • staging
  • psychological support
  • pain management
  • nutritional management
  • relieving biliary and duodenal obstruction
  • managing resectable and borderline resectable pancreatic cancer
  • managing unresectable pancreatic cancer.

For more information on identifying cases of pancreatic cancer in primary care or when to refer to a specialist, see NG12 on Suspected cancer: recognition and referral.

This guideline also updates and replaces NICE Technology Appraisal 25, Guidance on the use of gemcitabine for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.