Few people know the signs of pancreatic cancer, according to a survey by charity Pancreatic Cancer Action.
Survey figures show that, despite being the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer, 74% of the UK public cannot name a symptom of pancreatic cancer.
The results of the survey also showed that two thirds of people could not name a risk factor and 69% of people stated they knew nothing about this form of cancer.
Chief executive officer of Pancreatic Cancer Action Ali Stunt, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 12 years ago at the age of 41, said: “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.”
Pancreatic Cancer Action is urging members of the public to understand the signs and symptoms and visit a healthcare professional if they are experiencing upper abdominal pain or discomfort, mid-back pain, persistent indigestion, unexplained weight loss, pale and smelly stools, or jaundice.
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.”
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include having type 2 diabetes, chronic pancreatitis and having obesity. Pancreatic cancer is also more likely to develop in people between the age of 50 and 80, in smokers and in people who have a history of stomach ulcers or Helicobacter pylori infection.
Ali Stunt states how pancreatic cancer is often overlooked compared with other cancers: “Despite the fact that the disease is set to overtake breast cancer as the fourth 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.”
This month marks both Diabetes Awareness Month and Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.