The statistics are stark – only one in every 100 pancreatic cancer patients in England survive their disease for more than ten years. This figure hasn’t changed since the 1970s.
Rates of the disease are on the rise, having increased by 11 per cent in the past decade.
At the same time, new data or England shows that pancreatic cancer has the lowest per cent of cases diagnosed at an early stage.
Cancer Research UK has tripled its investment in research into the illness since 2014 and now a Leeds patient is featuring in the charity’s latest campaign.
Carl Denning appears in one of the Right Now campaign posters, which shows him asleep in his hospital bed as his mum looks on.
The 42-year-old said: “Before cancer happens to you or a loved one you don’t often see inside the hospital, so people have lots of assumptions of what it’s like.
“I wanted to take part in the Right Now campaign to show the reality of my cancer treatment - it hasn’t always been easy. And I think it’s also important to talk about how Cancer Research UK is helping develop new treatments for people like me in the future, through clinical trials and research.”
Carl, from Hunslet, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012 after suffering pains in his ribs and being referred to hospital by his GP. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy but unfortunately the disease returned at the end of 2013, and he had further chemotherapy.
Since then, the cancer has returned twice more since and he has needed more treatment. He is currently in remission.
Carl, who runs a street food business, added: “It’s encouraging to hear that the charity is investing more in pancreatic cancer so that more patients can take part in clinical trials and scientists can get to the root of the disease. Seeing the charity’s work in action and knowing that it’s growing gives me great hope for the future.”
Cancer Research UK spent £18m on pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment in the last financial year
That includes the work of world-leading expert Professor Andrew Biankin from Australia. He leads a team at the Cancer Research UK Glasgow Centre to unearth the genetic and molecular secrets of the biggest collection of pancreatic tumour samples in the world.
Prof Biankin said: “We need to be more ambitious and hit the disease hard and fast with new approaches. We need to diagnose these cancers swiftly so patients can get onto clinical trials which may help them.
“Increasing the amount of research taking place in the UK allows us to be much more optimistic about the future of beating this cancer.”
The new Right Now campaign aims to highlight the personal impact of cancer. Nicki Embleton, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Yorkshire, said: “We want to inspire people in Yorkshire to see the campaign and feel motivated to act - right now - to help more people survive. There are so many ways to get involved - from signing up for Race for Life to giving time to volunteer in our shops. The actions people take today will make a real difference to men, women and children fighting cancer both now and in the future.”