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Action needed to cut pancreatic cancer risk, warns charity

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Simple lifestyle changes could prevent almost two-fifths of cases of pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease, a leading charity claims.

Each year around 8,800 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, of whom fewer than 4% are likely to live five years.

“Survival for this disease remains shockingly low and this has to change”

Jeff Evans

But 37% could have saved themselves from the disease by maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking, according to Cancer Research UK.

Launching a major push to combat pancreatic cancer, the charity’s director of early diagnosis, Sara Hiom, said: “Cancer is a complex set of diseases. For some, lifestyle can play an important role, and is one aspect of the disease that we have some control over.

“Pancreatic cancer is a disease with poor outcomes and is less well understood, so it’s important that we talk about the things people can do to stack the odds in their favour and reduce their risk.”

The contribution of poor lifestyle to pancreatic cancer is outlined in research published in 2011 in the British Journal of Cancer.

Professor Jeff Evans, a clinician and scientist at Cancer Research UK’s Beatson Institute in Glasgow, said he found it “devastating” when he had to break the bad news to a patient with advanced pancreatic cancer.

He added: “Survival for this disease remains shockingly low and this has to change. There’s an urgent need to tackle pancreatic cancer head on by building up an armoury of effective new treatments - and developing ways to diagnose this disease sooner, when surgery is more effective.”

Cancer Research UK chief executive Dr Harpal Kumar said: “Pancreatic cancer is rarely in the spotlight. Unlike most other cancers where we’ve seen survival rates climb, outcomes for pancreatic cancer remain desperately poor.

Harpal Kumar


“This is why Cancer Research UK has made this terrible disease a research priority in our recent strategy, and we plan to more than double the amount we spend on pancreatic cancer research over the next few years.

“There is a long way to go, so we intend to move quickly to ensure that we make as rapid progress as possible in fighting this devastating disease.”

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