Public Release: 

Pancreatic cancer set to become third biggest cancer killer in EU next year

The number of deaths from pancreatic cancer will overtake breast cancer mortality rates in the EU in 2017

Spink Health

(Vienna, 7 November 2016) The number of deaths from pancreatic cancer will overtake breast cancer mortality rates in the EU in 2017, a study has found.

The findings, recently presented at UEG Week 2016, mean that pancreatic cancer will become the third leading cause of death from cancer in the EU behind lung and colorectal cancer. Pancreatic cancer mortality rates are increasing in many countries across the EU and it is estimated that 91,500 deaths will occur from the disease next year, compared with 91,000 from breast cancer.

The research used time-linear prediction models to estimate mortality rates until 2025, when deaths from pancreatic cancer (111,500) across Europe are projected to have increased by almost 50% since 2010 (76,000)1. All countries included in the study show varying increases in pancreatic cancer mortality rates from 20% to a staggering 131% increase over the 15-year period.

Despite being the third biggest cancer killer, the incidence of pancreatic cancer across Europe is relatively low in comparison with colorectal, lung and breast cancer. This demonstrates the extremely poor outlook for patients that are diagnosed with the disease which, unlike many other cancers, has not changed in the last 40 years.

Research shows that the median five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer across Europe is 5% and patients lose 98% of their healthy life expectancy at the point of diagnosis. Despite these alarming statistics, 64% of Europeans state that they know very little about pancreatic cancer and currently there is no feasible screening method.

Ahead of World Pancreatic Cancer Day on November 17, experts are calling for increased awareness of the disease to allow patients to be diagnosed in time for life-saving surgery. Professor Matthias Löhr, UEG pancreatic cancer specialist, explains, "Pancreatic cancer survival rate is lower than any other cancer. Consequently, it is absolutely vital that patients receive a diagnosis as early as possible to allow for surgery, which is currently the only potential for a cure".

"Members of the public as well as doctors are therefore advised to increase their knowledge of the signs for pancreatic cancer, which include new-onset diabetes, abdominal and back pain, a change in bowel habits and jaundice" adds Professor Löhr.

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A new video to help increase public awareness of pancreatic cancer is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhQMyCg0LFA&feature=youtu.be

For further information and interviews with Professor Matthias Löhr, please email media@ueg.eu or call Luke Paskins on 0044 (0)1444 811099

About Professor Matthias Löhr

Professor Matthias Löhr is a UEG pancreatic cancer expert from the Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology (CLINTEC), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

About UEG

UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. Find out more by visiting http://www.ueg.eu

To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:

  • UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world
  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations
  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe

References

1. Ferlay J., Partensky C., Bray F. More deaths from pancreatic cancer than breast cancer in the EU by 2017. ACTA Oncologica, August 2016.
2. International Agency for Research On Cancer
3. Carrato A., et al. A Systematic Review of the Burden of Pancreatic Cancer in Europe: Real-World Impact on Survival, Quality of Life and Costs. Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer, May 2014.
4. Ipsos Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Survey: Global Online Omnibus Survey. November 2014.

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