New statistics show shockingly low awareness of pancreatic cancer
• New stats show the majority of UK cannot name 1 symptom or risk factor of pancreatic cancer
• You are 5 times more likely to die from pancreatic cancer than in a car accident
• Survival rates are the lowest of all common cancers BUT, with early diagnosis, it is possible to survive. (founder of PCA celebrating 12 years)
• Join Pancreatic Cancer Action in raising awareness this Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month – watch and share our new symptom awareness animation
According to a recent survey, the UK public has a worryingly low knowledge of the pancreas and pancreatic cancer, with 69% knowing nothing about the disease and 74% not being able to name a single symptom.
What’s more, concerningly, around 2 thirds of people surveyed could not name any of the factors that increase the chances of getting pancreatic cancer and are therefore unaware of their own risk.
Pancreatic cancer is not just an old mans cancer. It affects almost 10,000 people a year and men and women are affected equally, with 40% of those diagnosed under the age of 69.
Pancreatic cancer is the UKs 5th biggest cancer killer (soon to overtake breast cancer as the 4th) and you are 5 times more likely to die of the disease then in a car accident.
The pancreas is an essential organ responsible for producing enzymes that help break down your food and hormones which control your blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer occurs when a tumour forms in the pancreas and currently, there is no early detection (screening) test for the disease.
Despite having a shockingly low survival rate, it is possible to survive pancreatic cancer: if a patient is diagnosed early and able to have surgery, 5-year survival increases from less than 7% to around 30%. Knowing the symptoms and risk factors associated with pancreatic cancer can help increase early diagnosis and save lives.
Ali Stunt, the founder and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she was 41 and with two young children. Her illness was detected early enough for her to have surgery and this year she celebrated being a 12-year survivor.
Ali says, “The results from the survey are worrying as it shows that people are not aware of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer and the potential risk to them.
“Knowing what to look out for when something is wrong with your pancreas is vital for early diagnosis as there is currently no screening test for pancreatic cancer.
“Despite the fact that the disease is set to overtake breast cancer as the 4th biggest cancer killer in the UK, pancreatic cancer only receives 3% of research funding. What’s more the target of 75% of cancer diagnosed in the early stages, set out in the NHS Long Term plan, is unrealistic for pancreatic cancer and presents a challenge that cannot be met.
“We need a specific focus for cancers, like pancreatic cancer, which have vague symptoms as well as an increase in research funding and greater symptom awareness amongst the public and healthcare professionals.
“I am living proof that with early diagnosis, surviving pancreatic cancer is possible.”
Pancreatic Cancer Action is urging the public to be more aware of the signs and symptoms and to see their GP if they are experiencing one or more of the following:
• Upper abdominal pain or discomfort
• Mid-back pain
• Persistent indigestion that doesn’t go away with medication
• Unexplained weight loss
• Pale and smelly stools
• Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, known as jaundice. If you notice this symptom, you should seek urgent medical assistance.
Dr Hilary Jones, GP patron for Pancreatic Cancer Action says: “Pancreatic Cancer Action’s recent survey tells us that more and more people are avoiding going to the doctors, even if they have these symptoms, due to being too busy and embarrassed. Please know that we have seen everything and there is nothing to be nervous about.”
“If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that are not normal for you, please visit your GP.”
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, where more than 80 organisations from 30 countries from around the globe come together to highlight the one of the world’s deadliest cancers.
Pancreatic Cancer Action have lots of free resources for healthcare professionals available on their website www.panact.org/healthcare-professionals
Pharmacies can also order their free Turn It Purple pack and enter Pancreatic Cancer Action’s pharmacy of the year award HERE.