Residents urged to spot the signs early for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Date posted: 3rd November 2022 Residents urged to spot the signs early for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month thumbnail image

Do you know the signs of pancreatic cancer?

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS is encouraging people to know the symptoms of pancreatic cancer this Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK and has the lowest survival rate of any of the 21 common cancers.

The five-year survival rate is 7.3 percent but for those diagnosed in time to have potentially life-saving surgery, this increases to around 30 percent. This presents an opportunity for intervention where people can be diagnosed earlier and live longer with a better quality of life.   

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

• Jaundice: the whites of your eyes or your skin could turn yellow, you may also have itchy skin, darker pee, and paler poo than usual

• loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to

• persistent changes in bowel habits – poo becoming loose or harder, floating and pale

• back pain

• pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you are eating or lying down and better when you lean forward

Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and a new diagnosis of diabetes.

If you have suspected symptoms, please contact your GP for advice. Early diagnosis saves lives.

Dr Neil Smith, GP lead and cancer director for Lancashire and South Cumbria said: “Pancreatic cancer can affect anyone, and the risk of developing the disease increases from the age of 45. Over 10,000 people die of it each year in the UK, and it can be hard to diagnose as symptoms can be vague.

“Unfortunately, many patients are diagnosed in A&E as an emergency and when the cancer is at an advanced stage. If more people are aware of the symptoms, we will have a greater chance of catching it early when surgery and other treatments may be an option.”

Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells in the pancreas grow uncontrollably to form a lump or mass, usually referred to as a ‘cancerous tumour’. Patients who present with one or more of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer need treatment quickly.

Vicki Stevenson-Hornby, pancreas and hepatobiliary specialist nurse at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital said: “Treatments for pancreatic cancer vary and are dependent on the stage of the disease and fitness level of the patient. They can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and symptom control.

“Currently, only 10-15 percent of people who are diagnosed receive their diagnosis in time for life-saving surgery. There is no screening programme for pancreatic cancer, so it is vitally important we raise awareness of the symptoms and encourage people to seek medical help if they experience any of them.”

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout November with World Pancreatic Cancer Day on Thursday 17 November. More information is available on the Pancreatic Cancer Action website.

Advice and support about pancreatic cancer signs and symptoms

NHS information about pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic Cancer Action

Pancreatic Cancer UK

Cancer Research UK information on pancreatic cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support information on pancreatic cancer

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