Patient vital status generally is passively obtained by cancer registries, and no previous population-based studies have used extensive active follow-up to compute a more accurate overall survival rate for pancreatic cancer. Therefore, the authors used multiple active and passive follow-up methods to determine vital status and date of death for 1,954 pancreatic cancer patients diagnosed from 1995 to 1999 in a large population-based study in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Survival rates were estimated by using Kaplan-Meier methods. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated by using multivariable Cox proportional-hazards models. Vital status was confirmed for >99% of 1,954 patients. The overall 5-year survival rate was 1.3% and was greater in patients who were younger and who had localized disease, well-differentiated tumors, and surgical resection. Shorter survival was associated with older age at diagnosis, male sex, distant/metastatic disease, and poorly differentiated tumors. Longer survival was observed for Asian/Pacific Islanders compared with non-Hispanic whites and for any active treatment regardless of tumor stage. With an almost complete follow-up, the authors observed a low overall 5-year survival rate. Although the results provide further evidence of poor survival among patients with pancreatic cancer, the data also suggest that within-stage-of-disease patients survived somewhat longer with therapy.