‘It’s about time’ we all knew more about pancreatic cancer

statistics and symptoms of pancreatic cancer in UK


#ItsAboutTime is the theme for World Pancreatic Cancer Day 2022.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month with World Pancreatic Cancer Day falling on the 17th. To help raise awareness of the disease, our article explores the urgent need for funding and research into the detection, diagnosis and treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer is the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer [1]. Patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer face a dismal prognosis, with the disease having the lowest survival rate of all major cancers. If you look at the current data in the UK alone, it is clear that survival from this devastating disease is all ‘about time’.

  • Over 10,500 people die of the Pancreatic Cancer annually across the UK, often within weeks of diagnosis.
  • In England, 29 people are newly diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer each day [2], and 25.4% of those people survive the disease for one year or more, with just 7.8% surviving for five years or more [2].
  • The UK survival rate lags behind other high-income countries, with 43% of all patients being diagnosed as an emergency in A&E, where it is more likely that the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body [3].

#It’sAboutTime – The importance of early diagnosis

Early diagnosis is key to improving survival in pancreatic cancer. In fact, people diagnosed in time for surgery have their chances of surviving beyond 5 years increased by up to 30% [4]. This is largely because with early diagnosis, there is an increased likelihood that a patient will be eligible for surgery, which is currently the only potentially curative treatment [2]. However, currently only 10%–20% of people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed in time for resection surgery.

The reasons for this are multifaceted, and there are many steps that need to be taken in order to improve the rates of early diagnosis [2].

One key issue is that public awareness of the disease and its symptoms remains low [2]. In the UK, 52% of people know ‘almost nothing’ about the disease, and 76% can’t name a single symptom. Can you?

statistics and symptoms of pancreatic cancer in UK

To find out more about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, please visit the pages listed below:

Cancer Research UK. Pancreatic cancer symptoms.

Pancreatic Cancer Action. Pancreatic cancer symptoms.

#ItsAboutTime – Diagnostic testing

Increasing public awareness of the disease is a vitally important step towards achieving the goal of early diagnosis, but there also is a need for a screening tool that can detect the cancer before symptoms present. And even once symptoms appear, the lack of a simple diagnostic test, combined with low healthcare professional confidence in identifying the disease, can hamper diagnosis [3].

Delays in diagnosis once a patient has sought medical attention for pancreatic cancer–related symptoms are common. According to Pancreatic Cancer UK some people see their GP several times before getting a diagnosis [4].

Worryingly, even when the disease is diagnosed when still localised, surgical resection remains strikingly underutilised. The national data also shows that only 38% of people diagnosed at stage one and two receive surgery. More research is needed to understand the inconsistency between national data and clinical experience. Simply maximising rates of surgical resection is one way we can make an immediate improvement in survival and impact thousands of patients [5].

#ItsAboutTime – The need for increased funding

Shockingly, despite being the fifth biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK, pancreatic cancer research is chronically underfunded with less than 3% of cancer research funding is dedicated to the disease [2]. It’s about time this changed!

The statistics quoted in this article highlight the urgent need to achieve greater awareness, funding and research into the detection, diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Join us this November in the fight to raise awareness and save lives from pancreatic cancer. Any action, no matter how big or small, will help towards the cause.

Simply share this article to support the awareness campaign or perhaps coordinate a fundraising activity in your community. There is still so much more that can be done!


  1. Pancreatic Cancer UK. Available at: https://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/what-we-do/media-centre/pancreatic-cancer-statistics/. Accessed November 2022.
  2. Pancreatic Cancer Action. Available at: https://pancreaticcanceraction.org/about-pancreatic-cancer/pancreatic-cancer-facts/. Accessed October 2022.
  3. Cancer Research UK. Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org. Accessed November 2022.
  4. Pancreatic Cancer UK Available at: https://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/information/how-is-pancreatic-cancer-diagnosed/tests-for-pancreatic-cancer/) Accessed November 2022.
  5. PCUK-Variation-Report-Aug-2020.pdf (pancreaticcancer.org.uk) Accessed November 2022.