To assess the trends in incidence, therapeutic modalities and survival of pancreatic cancer between 1978 and 2002 in a well-defined population, as recorded in the Calvados digestive cancer registry database. All patients living in Calvados with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer were registered. Clinical data and treatment modalities were prospectively recorded. This 25-year database was divided into five 5-year periods. Data were compared using log-rank tests and the Cox model. A total of 1175 cases of pancreatic cancer (617 men, 558 women) were registered. Its incidence increased with an average annual coefficient of +2.8% in men and +5.1% in women. Therapeutic modalities changed over the five time periods: surgical resection increased from 6.8 to 13.4% (median survival 15 months) while radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy also increased from 5.5 to 13.2%. Palliative surgery decreased from 54.6 to 32.0% and favored interventional endoscopic techniques. Postoperative mortality decreased significantly. Survival increased significantly over the five time periods, although the median survival time remained stable (4 months). From 1978 to 2002, pancreatic cancer incidence increased in Calvados (France). Therapeutic modalities changed, with endoscopic treatments preferred over palliative surgery. The improvement in survival could be explained by the decrease in postoperative mortality.