Pancreatic Cancer Campaign Sparks Controversy

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Playing Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

A campaign in the U.K. to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer features patients saying that they wished they had other forms of cancer that have better survival rates. The campaign has enraged people with other types of cancer, who say that all forms of cancer are devastating, and that the campaign's sponsors should not pit one type of the disease against another.

Ali Stunt, founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action, is a survivor of the deadly disease. "I was diagnosed at the age of 41 with operable, thankfully, pancreatic cancer," she says. "Anyone who hears the word 'cancer,' it's terrifying, but when you hear it's pancreatic cancer, it's horrific." Stunt adds, "We haven't intended to upset anybody, but we appreciate that if you've only read the strapline and not actually read the message underneath then you could potentially be offended. I would offer my own personal apologies to those people who have been upset."

Pancreatic cancer often is diagnosed at an advanced stage, so the survival rate is extremely low, usually less than five years. It is the forth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. The most common type of pancreatic cancer begins in the ducts of the pancreas, an organ behind the stomach that creates fluid that helps digest foods, according to The American Cancer Society.

Pancreatic cancer spreads rapidly and often is referred to as a "silent disease" because those affected rarely show noticeable signs or symptoms. By the time the cancer is detected, it is very difficult to treat.

Common Symptoms

  • Jaundice
  • Pain in the upper or middle abdomen or back
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

Treatment Options

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted drug therapy