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New statistics show shockingly low awareness of pancreatic cancer: 74% of people cannot name a single symptom

·         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 (July 2019), 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.”

This 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

Pharmacies can also order their free Turn It Purple pack and enter Pancreatic Cancer Action’s pharmacy of the year award here

About Pancreatic Cancer Action

Founded by Ali Stunt in 2010 after her own experience of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer aged 41, Pancreatic Cancer Action is the only UK charity that specifically focusses on improving pancreatic cancer survival rates through early diagnosis.  

Our mission is to improve survival by ensuring more people are diagnosed early and in time for surgery – currently the only potential cure – and improve the quality of life of patients.

We do this by:

1.     Raising public awareness and knowledge of the pancreatic cancer and its symptoms.

2.     Providing education, awareness and training for the medical and healthcare communities.

3.     Campaigning and lobby the government and key stakeholders for change.

4.     Funding research into early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

5.     Providing free patients information for those diagnosed and living with pancreatic cancer.

Further information about pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the 5th biggest cause of cancer death in the UK, however, it is set to become the 4th, overtaking breast cancer by 2026 as other cancers’ survival rates continue to improve. The survival statistics for pancreatic cancer have not changed markedly in nearly 50 years. 10,000 people are diagnosed in the UK each year with one person dying each hour from the disease.


·         Every day, 24 people will die of pancreatic cancer – that’s more than the number who will die in road traffic accidents.

·         Less than 7% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive for more than five years – this is because the cancer is very advanced when diagnosed. 

·         If patients are able to have surgery and diagnosed early, 5-year survival increases to 30%

·         There is no early detection test for pancreatic cancer.

·         The UK has one of the lowest survival rates for pancreatic cancer in the world.

·         Just under half of patients are diagnosed after admission to A & E. 

·         Almost half of the UK do not know what the pancreas looks like (July 2019, survey based on 2,000 participants)

Pancreatic cancer symptoms include

·            Unexplained and significant weight loss

·            Abdominal pain or discomfort that can come and go, which tends to get worse when eating

·            Indigestion that’s not responding to prescribed medication

·            Yellowing of the skin and/or eyes, dark urine or very itchy skin (jaundice)

·            Fatty and pale stools that are smelly and hard to flush

·            Mid-back pain or discomfort

New statistics show shockingly low awareness of pancreatic cancer: 74% of people cannot name a single symptom

Editor Details

  • Company:
    • Pancreatic Cancer Action
  • Name:
    • Pancreatic Cancer Action
Last Updated: 01-Nov-2019