Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate among all major cancers because few people know the risks and symptoms and are subsequently diagnosed at an advanced stage. On World Pancreatic Cancer Day (WPCD), Thursday, Nov. 21, advocates around the world, including JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek, will unite to raise awareness of the most common risks and symptoms of the disease. The annual one-day campaign is an initiative of the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition (WPCC), which is composed of more than 80 organizations from over 30 countries on six continents.
In nearly every country, pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer with a single-digit, five-year survival rate (2-9 percent). Each day, more than 1,184 people worldwide die from the disease. More attention, awareness and progress are needed to help patients fight and survive this disease. Better progress starts with early detection, and a key to early detection is knowing the risks and symptoms, which are often vague and incorrectly attributed to other less serious and more common conditions.
JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek joins this year’s global awareness initiative by encouraging people to learn the risks and symptoms of pancreatic cancer in a new public service announcement (PSA). The PSA will be distributed by WPCC member organizations around the world and will also air during JEOPARDY! on Thursday, Nov. 21 (check local listings for show times and stations). In March, Trebek was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer after seeking help for stomach pain that would not go away.
“I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” said Trebek. He encourages people to learn the risks and symptoms and that “together, we can get it done.”
Common symptoms include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, jaundice and stomach pain. While the cause of most pancreatic cancer cases is unknown, there is evidence that smoking, being overweight, a family history of pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis may increase an individual’s risk of developing the disease. Because there is currently no screening test for pancreatic cancer, anyone experiencing one or more persistent symptoms should mention pancreatic cancer to their healthcare provider. Patients that are diagnosed at an earlier stage when surgery is an option are more likely to live five years and beyond.
“On World Pancreatic Cancer Day, we unite as a global movement to advocate for early detection and better outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, WPCC chair. “By raising awareness of pancreatic cancer risks and symptoms, we hope that people will be aware and alert their doctor sooner when there is more opportunity for intervention.”
On Nov. 21, the WPCC encourages people to help raise awareness of the risks and symptoms by visiting worldpancreaticcancerday.org and sharing campaign videos and graphics to educate family, friends, coworkers and social media followers. Other ways to get involved include:
- Posting on social media using the hashtags #WPCD and/or #DemandBetter
- Following WPCD on social media:
- Twitter/Instagram: @worldpancreatic
- Facebook: @worldpancreaticcancerday
- Wearing purple on World Pancreatic Cancer Day (Nov. 21)
- Asking your public officials to support more government funding for pancreatic cancer research
Go to worldpancreaticcancerday.org for more information, useful resources and links to pancreatic cancer organizations in your country/region.