35 per cent of adults in the UK would not be worried if they had a few of the potential symptoms of pancreatic cancer, according to survey results released by Pancreatic Cancer UK today (Wednesday, 1st November), the first day of pancreatic cancer awareness month (1).
The charity is concerned this could mean that people would not take the symptoms seriously if they had them, and may not report them to their GP. This could in turn delay diagnosis and treatment for a disease which a shocking 93 per cent of patients do not survive beyond five years.
The ComRes survey, commissioned by Pancreatic Cancer UK, asked over 4,000 adults across the UK how worried they would be if they experienced a few of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer including tummy pain, indigestion, unexplained weight loss, and floating poo.
The survey also found that a fifth (20 per cent) of UK adults thought a pancreatic cancer patient was likely to survive for five years or more, while more than a quarter (28 per cent) said they did not know how likely people were to survive for that time. Pancreatic Cancer UK says this shows a worrying lack of understanding of the seriousness of pancreatic cancer. The charity is concerned this could also mean people may put off visiting their GP if they were to spot a few of the potential symptoms.
The charity is now urging people to find out more about the disease, and the impact it can have on people diagnosed and their families. It is calling for people to spread the word to their friends, family and colleagues by supporting its Purple Alert campaign this November.
Alex Ford, Chief Executive at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “We must all be aware of the possible signs of pancreatic cancer, and of the devastating impact this disease can have, because 93 per cent of people diagnosed will not live beyond five years. This is in large part due to 80 per cent of patients being diagnosed at a late stage, when treatment options are very limited. If people would not be concerned if they spotted a number of the possible symptoms, and at the same time not understand the seriousness of pancreatic cancer, they may not take action quickly enough, which could then delay diagnosis and treatment.
“We do not want people to panic if they have some or all of these symptoms, because most people who have them will not have pancreatic cancer. But it is vital that people know more about this disease, and talk to their GP if they have any concerns. The earlier people are diagnosed, the more likely they are to be able to have surgery, which is the one treatment which can save lives. This November, please join us and get on Purple Alert for pancreatic cancer, and together we will take on this tough cancer.”
Graphic designer Nikki Davies, who lives in Reading, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March at the age of 51. Nikki said: “I didn’t know anything about pancreatic cancer before my diagnosis, and I certainly wouldn’t have known what the symptoms were. I was lucky to be diagnosed at an early stage. Because my cancer hadn’t spread, I was able to have surgery to remove the tumour and I’m now having chemotherapy, which I’m generally coping well with. My message to others would be that no-one knows your body like you do. Know what the symptoms are and talk to your GP if you notice anything that’s unusual for you.”
People can join Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Purple Alert campaign this pancreatic cancer awareness month at www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/pcam. During November, the charity is calling for people to hold an awareness stand at their local supermarket or community centre, write to their MP to ask them to get involved with the campaign, or arrange for a building to be lit in purple to spread the word about the disease.