Why we exist
Each year around 8,800 people in the UK are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It's the fifth most common cause of cancer death, causing five percent of all cancer deaths each year.
Lowest survival rate
Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all cancers – just 3% of those diagnosed survive for five years. It is also the only cancer that has seen no improvement in this figure over the last 40 years.
For many cancers, five year survival rates have increased hugely since the 1970s. For breast cancer – where large amounts have been spent on research – five year survival rates have increased from 50% to 80%.
Low levels of research funding
Yet despite its high death rate and lack of improvement in chances of survival, pancreatic cancer attracts little research funding in comparison with many other cancers. In 2011, pancreatic cancer attracted just 1% of research funding from the major funding bodies.
There are a number of factors that influence the level of research funding for particular types of cancer, but for pancreatic cancer, ‘researchability’ and fundraising are the most significant.
Some tumour types are easier to work on than others …and many researchers are attracted to areas or disease where there is real evidence of potential for progress. Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, because it is unusually aggressive, symptoms are often vague and appear at a late stage, when surgery is no longer possible.
Certain types of cancer attract more public donations than others. Public donations specifically for pancreatic cancer in the past have been very limited, because this cancer rarely made the headlines, there were no charities solely for pancreatic cancer and unless directly affected, few people were aware of the disease and the need for much more research.
The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund was set up in 2004 and exists to try and address these issues – to not only raise new funds for research, but to be a voice for pancreatic cancer sufferers and argue for a fair allocation of research funding and attention.
About pancreatic cancer
There are two types of cancer which can affect the pancreas.Read more
Cancer facts & figures
About 331,500 people are diagnosed with cancer each year.Read more