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World Pancreatic Cancer Day

World Pancreatic Cancer Day

Pancreatic cancer is the 5th deadliest common cancer in England, claiming 7800 lives every year. World Pancreatic Cancer Day is recognised every year on the third Thursday in November. This awareness day is all about bringing everyone together to spread the word about this disease and the need for earlier diagnosis.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a tumour that forms in the head, body or tail of the pancreas when cells start growing erratically out of control.

What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is a pear-shaped gland located in the digestive system between the stomach and the spine. Its main function is to produce juices containing enzymes which helps break down food during digestion. The pancreas also makes specific hormones including insulin which helps control blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer eventually causes major problems with digesting food, causing discomfort after eating, weight loss and bowel problems.

What causes pancreatic cancer?

There is no known cause of pancreatic cancer, but there are risk factors that increase the chances of the disease developing.


As with other types of cancers, when you get older, the higher your chances are of getting pancreatic cancer. 47% of people in the UK over the age of 75 are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.


Smoking is a big culprit when it comes to many diseases including cancer. Smoking causes approximately 1 in 3 pancreatic cancers in the UK. However, quitting smoking can reduce your risk of developing, putting you back to a normal risk about 5-10 years after stopping.


Maintaining a healthy weight and eating the right kinds of food is very important and helps keep our bodies working. Research shows being overweight or obese increases the risk of getting pancreatic cancer. 1 in 8 pancreatic cancers may be linked to being overweight or obese.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Pancreatic cancer is very difficult to diagnose because, in the early stages, people don’t often experience symptoms. If symptoms do arise, they can come and go from mild to severe. There are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Abdominal and back pain
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Jaundice – yellow tinge to skin and eyes

If you, or someone you know, experience any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, then it is very important that you contact your GP or a healthcare professional.

You can find more information about Pancreatic Cancer on the Pancreatic Cancer UK website: they have support numbers to call, should you need any assistance.

Get involved on Thursday 21st November 2019 for World Pancreatic Cancer Day and raise awareness about the symptoms and risks of the disease, and the urgent need for earlier detection.

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