Pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common cancer among men in the Western world (ninth in women), and has arguably the lowest survival rate of any. There are no identifiable symptoms at an early stage and it is, therefore, currently hard to detect. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer is often already advanced and it is too late for surgery in many cases. According to predictions for this year across the EU, mortality of pancreatic cancer will have risen by 4% in men and 5% in women since 2009. Mortality of pancreatic cancer is also expected to keep increasing in Europe in the long term, overtaking mortality rates of other long-recognised deadly cancers.
Pancreatic cancer is more common in people aged 45 and above, and its exact cause is unknown. It is usually fatal, not only because of generally late detection, but partly because it tends to resist chemotherapy. And when it comes to surgery, only about 15-20% of patients have tumors which are considered able to be removed by this method.
Recently published survival statistics in Europe derived from EUROCARE data indicate that the overall five-year survival rate remains low (around 6%), There have been no significant improvements in survival over the last decade, although outcomes are slightly better for the small percentage of patients whose disease is discovered early.
It is therefore clear that public awareness of the disease and the risk factors should be developed, particularly among the over 40-45s, as well as among smokers, diabetics, heavy-alcohol drinkers and the obese.
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