With a five-year survival rate in the single digits - and less than one percent survival rate for ten or more years in England and Wales - pancreatic cancer is one of the world’s deadliest cancers. The time is now to join in raising awareness across the world.
The World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition brings together more than 80 organisations from over 30 countries and six continents to raise awareness and inspire action. Through this combined effort, we can bring greater attention, awareness and better outcomes to this deadly disease.
The pancreas is a gland in the abdomen that lies behind the stomach and in front of the spine, with two main functions: digestion and blood sugar regulation. Pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells within the pancreas grow out of control and form a tumour. More than 95% of pancreatic cancers are classified as exocrine tumours, which start in the exocrine cells that make pancreatic enzymes that help in digestion. Within this category, the vast majority of tumours are adenocarcinomas.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (pancreatic NETs or PNETs) account for less than 5% of all pancreatic tumours; they may be benign or malignant and tend to grow slower than exocrine tumours.
Pancreatic cancer often doesn’t cause any signs or symptoms in the early stages, which can make it harder to diagnose early. Symptoms can also be vague and may come and go, while the severity can also vary for each person.
You may or may not have any or all of these symptoms. It’s important to remember that symptoms can be caused by more common things. They can also be caused by conditions such as pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or hepatitis (inflammation of the liver):
The cause of the majority of pancreatic cancer cases is unknown, but research studies have identified the following risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer:
All of thees symptoms and risk factors can have multiple other causes and the symptoms you are experiencing may well be a sign of something else. However, if you’ve regularly been experiencing one or more of these symptoms that are persistent, worsening, and not normal for you, do not ignore them, speak to your GP as soon as you can, and reference pancreatic cancer.
If pancreatic cancer is found early, it is more treatable so visiting your doctor could save your life.