Charity urges spending hike on pancreatic cancer research

Pancreatic cancer will become one of the top four killer cancers in the next decade, a charity has warned.

It is expected that more than 11,000 people will die every year from pancreatic cancer by 2026

By 2026, 11,279 people are expected to die every year from the disease, a 28 per cent rise on the 8,817 in 2014, Pancreatic Cancer UK said.

This will make it the fourth biggest cancer killer after lung, bowel and prostate ­cancers.

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The charity is warning that a lack of medical breakthroughs in diagnosing the cancer early means most patients discover they have the disease too late to receive surgery.

Having an operation to remove the tumour is the only treatment that saves lives, but currently, only 8 per cent of pancreatic cancer patients are eligible for surgery.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can be vague, which is one reason why people are often diagnosed when it is too late to stop the cancer spreading.

Signs can include pain in the stomach area or back, jaundice and weight loss.

Around 10,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year.

If the cancer is caught early and surgery is possible, between 7 per cent to 25 per cent of people will live for five years or more.

But when the cancer has spread to nearby tissues, survival is typically six to 11 months.

In its most advanced stages, when cancer has spread to another organ or part of the body, survival is as low as two to six months.

Overall, only a fifth of people with pancreatic cancer survive for a year or more.

Pancreatic Cancer UK is calling on the government and other major research funders to increase the amount of money spent on investigating the disease to £25 million per year in the UK by 2022.

Alex Ford, chief executive of the charity, said: “This dreadful disease is set to become one of the big four cancer killers in less than ten years because we have not made the vital breakthroughs in early diagnosis methods that are so desperately needed to allow patients and families more precious time together.

“And if we don’t act now, the number of lives stolen by the disease will increase by over a quarter by 2026 in the UK.

“We cannot let this happen.

“We will lead a revolution for people affected, by funding research to allow more patients to be diagnosed ­earlier, when potentially life-saving surgery is possible.

“We will also focus on discovering new treatments, exploring the potential of personalised medicine and ensuring patients get the best treatment now.”