Pancreatic Cancer Aware - Rasising awareness of Pancreatic Cancer and its symptoms

Pancreatic Cancer Aware - #PancreaticCancerAware

Raising awareness of Pancreatic Cancer. #PancreaticCancerAware

Who We Are

We’re Pancreatic Cancer Action, a UK charity dedicated to improving survival rates of this devastating disease. We believe that while no early detection test for pancreatic cancer exists, the key to saving lives is improving early diagnosis.

We focus on raising awareness of pancreatic cancer, educating the medical community, campaigning for change and funding research specifically into early diagnosis. Ultimately we want to improve detection and treatment so more people survive pancreatic cancer.

For more information, visit www.pancreaticcanceraction.org

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The Pancreatic Cancer Aware Campaign - #PancreaticCancerAware

The Campaign

Decades of underfunding means that there are no curative treatments for pancreatic cancer on the horizon. While no early detection test exists, the key to improving survival rates is getting more patients diagnosed early by getting them to recognise the disease and its symptoms.

The campaign focuses on raising awareness of pancreatic cancer, its signs and its symptoms.

If you believe you have any of the symptoms featured on the campaign, which are not normal for you and are persistent, you should talk to your GP.

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What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is when a malignant tumour forms in the pancreas, which is the organ responsible for making enzymes to help to digest (break down) foods, and hormones, which control blood sugar levels.

Tumours become malignant when they are made up of cells that grow out of control. Cells in these tumours can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body such as the liver and lungs. When cancer spreads to other organs, it is known as metastatic or advanced cancer.

Diagram of how Pancreatic Cancer affects the body.

Exocrine tumours

These make up the vast majority of all pancreatic cancers (around 90%) and come from the cells that line the ducts in the pancreas which carry digestive juices into the intestine. These are called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas. Other exocrine tumours of the pancreas are rarer, and include adenosquamous carcinomas and undifferentiated carcinomas.

Endocrine tumours

These are known as neuroendocrine tumours, and are much less common. These tumours sometimes make hormones such as insulin, and glucagon, to control blood sugar. Often referred to as either PETs or islet cell tumours, they are very rare, making up just 2-5% of pancreatic tumours.

 

Pancreatic Cancer Statistics

Pancreatic cancer is the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer and has the lowest survival rate of the ten most common cancers.

Over 9000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. Sadly, it claims almost the same number of lives every year. This is because 80% of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed when the disease is advanced and hard to treat.

Through our work, we want to ensure that more people live longer by improving early diagnosis.

Every hour one person dies of Pancreatic Cancer

One person dies of pancreatic cancer every hour

Every day 26 people are diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer

Twenty six people are newly diagnosed with the disease each day

Only 5% of patients with pancreatic cancer survive more than 5 years.

Currently only five percent of those diagnosed survive beyond five years

Men and women are affected by pancreatic cancer equally.

Pancreatic cancer affects men and women equally

Only 3% of cancer research funding goes towards Pancreatic Cancer.

Receives only 3% of cancer research funding

40% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are under 69.

Of patients diagnosed are under the age of 69

How is Pancreatic Cancer Treated?

Treatment for pancreatic cancer is dependent on how advanced the cancer is and a patient’s overall health. If possible, surgeons will remove the cancer; the most common operation is the Whipples Procedure (surgery to remove all or part of the pancreas and other organs). Surgery is usually followed up with chemotherapy.

For metastatic pancreatic cancer (spread to other parts of the body) treatment may include chemotherapy and occasionally radiotherapy too. A patient may also be offered treatment to relieve symptoms and the opportunity to join a clinical trial.

Have you got any questions about pancreatic cancer and its treatment?
Visit www.panact.org or call 0303 040 1770.

Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms

Do you suffer from
any of these symptoms?

The following are classic symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

However, they can also have many other causes, so if you experience them it does not necessarily mean you have pancreatic cancer, BUT

If you persistently experience one or more of these symptoms, which are not normal for you, DO NOT IGNORE THEM!

Contact your GP straight away. Or call the NHS 111 service.

Jaundice can be a symptom of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer symptoms often result in misdiagnosis.

Weight loss can be a symptom of Pancreatic Cancer.

Upper abdominal pain may be an indication of Pancreatic Cancer

Depression can be as a result of Pancreatic Cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer can cause pain on eating.

Fatigue can be a symptom of Pancreatic Cancer.

Onset diabetes can be a symptom of Pancreatic Cancer.

Pale and smelly stools may be a symptom of Pancreatic Cancer

Indigestion can be an early sign of Pancreatic Cancer.

Mid back pain may be a symptom of Pancreatic Cancer

Early diagnosis can help the survival rate of Pancreatic Cancer.

What causes the classic symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

There is a reason why pancreatic cancer can cause some symptoms. If you click on any of the symptoms below, you can find an explanation.

 

  • Painless jaundice (yellowing of the skine/yes, dark urine and/or very itchy skin).

    Half of patients will have yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (Jaundice) when they first go to the doctors.  This is related to the tumour blocking the bile duct which leads to a build-up of bile in the liver.

    Jaundice may be more obvious in the whites of the eyes and bad jaundice can cause itching of the skin.

  • Abdominal pain which is new-onset and significant

    Approximately 70 per cent of patients with pancreatic cancer go to the doctor initially due to abdominal pain. This pain is often described as beginning in the stomach area and radiating around to the upper back (just above where a woman’s bra strap would be).

  • Pale, smelly stools that don’t flush easily

    A tumour in the pancreas can cause bowel disturbances which means you do not absorb your food properly. This will result in regular, large bowel movements of pale and smelly stool. This can also cause weight loss.

  • Mid-back pain

    This pain is identified as just above where a woman’s bra strap would be.

  • Weight Loss which is significant and unexplained

    Cancer cachexia can cause the body to burn more calories than usual, break down muscle and decrease appetite. A person may notice a change in appetite or desire for certain foods. Unexplained weight loss may be an early symptom of pancreatic cancer and can occur without any pain or apparent change in digestion.

About The Campaign

The Pancreatic Cancer Aware campaign aims to improve early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer by raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease.

The first phase of the campaign focuses on the importance of being aware of the most common symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer: new onset abdominal pain, painless jaundice, unexplained weight loss, pale and smelly stools and mid-back pain.

The campaign includes national outdoor press and online advertising featuring these symptoms.

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Members of the public who experience any of the symptoms featured in the campaign are encouraged to seek medical advice if they are persistent, worsening and not normal for them.

Who developed the campaign?

Pancreatic Cancer Aware campaign was developed by Pancreatic Cancer Action, which is a registered UK charity (113879) that focus on promoting awareness and early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Visit www.pancreaticcanceraction.org or email to find out more.

How can I support the campaign?

You can support the campaign by sharing the website on social media or via e-mail, and encouraging everyone you know to find out more about pancreatic cancer. You can also:

 

 

Pancreatic Cancer Aware Infographic

You can share this infographic online to encourage more people to be Pancreatic Cancer Aware.

Why it's important to be pancreatic cancer aware.

Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer

Not enough is yet understood about pancreatic cancer to identify the actual causes of the disease, but there are some factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Reducing Your Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

While there is no clear reason why some people develop pancreatic cancer, we do know that the following can reduce your risk.

Stop smoking.

Smoking is the only confirmed environmental cause of pancreatic cancer and 29 per cent of cases are caused by smoking.

Are you a smoker? You should take steps to stop. You can:

  • Talk to your doctor who can provide you with advice and strategies to help you stop.
  • Find your local stop smoking service – they are available in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Join Smokefree NHS support group. You can also contact a Smokefree NHS expert.

If you are a smoker talk to your doctor about strategies to help you stop, including support groups, medications and nicotine replacement therapy. If you don't smoke, don't start.

 

Maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet.

A study in 2011 estimated that around 12 per cent of all pancreatic cancers in the UK are attributable to being overweight or obese2

Keeping a healthy weight not only cuts your risk of pancreatic cancer, but could also reduce your risk of nine other types of cancer too.

  • If you currently have a healthy weight, try to maintain it.
  • If you need to lose weight, aim for a slow, steady weight loss.
  • Talk to your GP who can provide you with advice. Your GP may also be able to enable you to have a reduced gym membership.
  • Combine daily exercise with a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains with smaller portions to help you lose weight. There are also lots of tools and apps to help you including:
Reducing weight can help reduce your risk of Pancreatic Cancer.Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of Pancreatic Cancer.

What to do if you’re concerned?

All of the symptoms featured in the Pancreatic Cancer Aware campaign can have multiple other causes and the symptoms you are experiencing may well be a sign of something else.

BUT if you’ve regularly been experiencing one or more of the symptoms mentioned in this campaign that are persistent, worsening, and not normal for you, do not ignore them. Contact your GP or the NHS 111 service.

If a friend or member of your family is having any of these symptoms, tell them to do the same.

If you have already visited the doctor, and are not happy with your diagnosis, go back again. If you are concerned for your health, you are not wasting anyone's time by returning.

If pancreatic cancer is found early, it is more treatable so visiting your doctor could save your life!

How can I track my symptoms if I’m worried?

Before any appointment, it helps to have a record of your symptoms. The following can help you track them.

 

Symptoms Diary

Using a symptoms diary will help you track when you have been having symptoms, and how frequent and persistent they are.

You can take this information to your GP if you are worried that your symptoms may be pancreatic cancer and if you have already talked about your symptoms with your GP and they are not going away, you can fill in a copy of this diary and make another appointment to see them.

Expect to be asked more questions at your appointment relating to how long you have had your symptoms or whether they have changed over time.

Keeping a symptoms diary can help diagnose Pancreatic Cancer sooner.

How to use the diary:

  1. Monitor your symptoms daily and make a record of when you had the symptom(s) and how severe you think they are. You may want to note additional comments/concerns to raise with your doctor.
  2. Keep a record for at least 2 weeks BUT if symptoms become very severe see your doctor straight away.
  3. Make an appointment to see your GP and use your diary to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible.
    • Tell your doctor you are worried about pancreatic cancer.
    • It is also important to tell your doctor if anyone in your family has any prior history of pancreatic cancer.

 

Symptoms checker

Powered by Isabel Healthcare, where you can input your age, gender and as many symptoms you are experiencing and this will bring up a list of conditions that may explain the symptoms you are having. This list can be printed off or even emailed for discussion with your GP.

Symptom checker for those concerned about Pancreatic Cancer

You can also visit thePancreatic Cancer Action website or call 0303 040 1770 to find out more.

Get In Touch

If you would like to get in touch, please fill our contact form or contact the Pancreatic Cancer Action office on 0303 040 1770.