The signs of pancreatic cancer the experts want you to be aware of

Photo credit: Laurence Monneret / Getty
Photo credit: Laurence Monneret / Getty

From Prima

How's this for a worrying statistic: just over a third of adults in the UK would not be worried if they had a few of the potential symptoms of pancreatic cancer, reveal Pancreatic Cancer UK.

If people aren't aware of potential signs -or simply put off going to their GP – it could delay diagnosis and treatment, which is integral to prognosis. This becomes even more shocking when you consider that 93% of pancreatic cancer patients do not survive beyond five years – a statistic that 20% of the 4,000 adults surveyed didn't know.

The charity is urging people to find out more about the disease to break the 'worrying lack of understanding of the seriousness of pancreatic cancer'.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include tummy pain, indigestion, unexplained weight loss, and floating faeces.

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.'

The symptoms of PDAC can be quite vague and may come and go to begin with, but signs can include:

  • Stomach and back ache (more common)

  • Unexplained weight loss (more common)

  • Indigestion (more common)

  • Changes to bowel habits – especially floating faeces (more common)

  • Loss of appetite

  • Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes or itchy skin)

  • Feeling and being sick

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Recently diagnosed diabetes

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.'

Get purple and fundraise for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

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