youAn ‘alarming’ number of people would push back for help from their GP if they had potential symptoms of cancer of the pancreas, a charity has warned.
Almost a third of people (28 percent) in the UK they would wait three months or more to contact a doctor, even though pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest common cancers.
According to Pancreatic Cancer UK, the disease has the lowest survival rate of any common cancer, with a five-year survival of less than 7%.
In a new survey, the charity found that 31% of people said they would put off seeking help longer than usual, with just over half (51%) of respondents saying that the reason for this was that they ‘did not want to be a burden on the NHS’.
The results of the survey of 2,087 Britons were carried out by Savanta ComRes and suggest the public may not be taking pancreatic cancer symptoms seriously, the charity has warned.
Every year 10,500 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Medical experts say an early diagnosis gives people the best chance of survival, but around 80% of people diagnosed with cancer don’t find out about it until the disease is at an advanced stage.
This is because cancer symptoms can be “vague”, the charity said. They include back pain, indigestion, stomach pain, weight loss and jaundice, which is considered an “alarming” sign of pancreatic cancer.
Jaundice occurs when the eyes or skin turn yellow, but nearly a quarter (22%) of those surveyed said they weren’t sure they could recognize it. Pancreatic Cancer UK urges anyone who has developed jaundice to go to A&E immediately.
David Chang, Consultant Pancreatic Surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Head of Translation for the Precision Panc Platform, said The Independent that the survey results were “worrying”, particularly if people waited so long to seek help after experiencing signs of jaundice.
“The general public may not be as aware of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and the problem is that the symptoms can be very vague. It can be a stomach ache that comes and goes that patients just put up with,” he said.
“But I would like to say that if patients have jaundice, they should seek help immediately.”
Chelsea Bennet, 27, said her mother called her symptoms “just one of those things”, but she was eventually diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. His mother, Joanne Eales, began experiencing symptoms in February 2020.
He first saw a GP but due to the pressures of the pandemic he requested a private scan and was then told how far his cancer had progressed and nothing could be done to save his life .
Bennett said: “It started with mild stomach and back pain and then she had a slight change in her bowel habits. She said to herself: “Maybe it’s because of my age”, because of the onset of menopause.
“Mom thought it was just one of those things. She was still living a normal life and doing normal things.”
Bennett described his mother as “a very proud woman” who was “still growing her fingernails” just a week before her death.
“During this time, I was living between two houses, picking up the children from school and then going to my mother’s house. I spent the whole night at my mother’s. Being an only child, there was no one else to share this burden with.
“A lot of times I would look at her and wonder how it happened. Pancreatic cancer is something we all need to be aware of because it’s a deadly cancer.”
Actress Mindy Kaling previously revealed her mother also fell ill with the disease and died in 2012 after being diagnosed with stage four just eight months earlier.
Kaling, who works to raise awareness at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), said her mother, Swati Chokalingam, had symptoms including back pain, weight loss and yellowing of the eyes.
The 42-year-old star Office she told US News last year: ‘I remember back then it was really like the time in my life when I had to become a real adult. And I had to be strong because she couldn’t see me weak or broken by the news; I wanted to give him hope.”
Diana Jupp, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “It is very worrying to hear that so many people have been delaying seeking help for so long. Pancreatic cancer has not disappeared due to Covid-19 and I would advise anyone with persistent, unexplained symptoms to use the NHS.
“There is no time to wait with pancreatic cancer. Every year, thousands of people are told that it is too late, that nothing can be done for them. It is essential that people are diagnosed as early as possible so that they have the best chance of receiving life-saving treatment.
“We don’t want people to panic if they have some or all of these symptoms because most people who have them won’t get pancreatic cancer,” he added.
“But it’s absolutely vital that people learn more about this disease, talk to their loved ones and GPs and help us end the culture of silence around the UK’s deadliest common cancer.”
Chang added: ‘It’s about being alert and always having it in mind, if something is wrong seek help from your GP and get blood tests.
“Check your eyes frequently, the skin can also turn yellow, but it depends on each individual’s skin tone, so it may not clear up until later.
“But jaundice can also be associated with changes in urine and stool. If your urine color darkens to a Coca-Cola-like color and your stools turn pale like clay, seek immediate medical attention. your doctor.
A lot of work is being done to try to catch pancreatic cancer early, Chang said. “We have improved the outcome of many other cancers, but pancreatic, esophageal and lung cancers still have a more negative prognosis. We need to improve public awareness.”
Pancreatic Cancer UK recommends anyone with one or more of these symptoms for more than four weeks to contact their GP.