Every year in the UK, around 10,500 patients receive a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This equates to 29 new cases every day. Sadly, behind the diagnosis lie terrifying statistics. Only 25.4% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in England survive the disease for one year or more, and only 7.3% of people survive for five years or more. It has the lowest survival rate of all 22 common cancers.
Pancreatic cancer survival has not shown much improvement in the last 40 years. For example, in the 1970s, 1% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survived their disease beyond ten years. In 2022, the survival rate of ten years or more remains at 1%.
These statistics have led to highly controversial campaigns such as ‘I wish I had another cancer', whereby pancreatic cancer patients have shared their stories about wishing they were battling a cancer with better survival rate statistics.
Sadly, most people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed at a late stage and, therefore, surgery is not an option. One of the reasons for this is because the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often not specific and may come and go initially. In addition, symptoms can also be very similar to other conditions, such as gallstones, pancreatitis, stomach ulcers and IBS.
This year, 17 November 2022 is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness day. The aim is to raise awareness of the early signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer in order to save lives.
Whilst everyone is different, common symptoms include:
- Tummy or back pain
- Changes to poo
- Unexplained weight loss or a loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes and itchy skin)
Other symptoms might include:
- Recently diagnosed diabetes
- Problems digesting food
- Feeling or being sick
- Blood clots
Tragically, many patient's stories involve a history of repeated visits to their GP with symptoms which have gone misdiagnosed for years. Generating awareness is therefore critical to supporting early diagnosis and improving patient's outcomes.
Delays in diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can be devastating and we would encourage everyone who reads this blog to take action if you are suffering with any of the above symptoms. Here at Lanyon Bowdler, we have profound sympathy for all individuals and families impacted by pancreatic cancer. If you have any concerns in relation to the treatment that you have received, please contact us.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.