'Peace of Mind' campaign

You might have seen our Peace of Mind campaign on social media, or heard us on the local radio. At the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Cancer Alliance, we are raising awareness of the early signs of cancer, and empowering people to see their GP without delay if they are experiencing these symptoms.

This ‘Peace of Mind’ approach shifts the focus from fearing the worst to understanding that seeing your GP promptly could provide information and answers that ease your worries. It assures people that even if the outcome is a cancer diagnosis, catching it early is better than waiting. Together, we're striving for peace of mind, knowing we're taking proactive steps to keep everyone healthy.

Read more about the Peace of Mind campaign here.

Pancreatic Cancer

Around 10,500 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year. This makes pancreatic cancer the 10th most common cancer in the UK*.

The pancreas is an organ in the top part of your tummy. It helps you digest your food and makes hormones, such as insulin. Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that's found anywhere in the pancreas.

How serious pancreatic cancer is depends on where it is in the pancreas, how big it is, if it has spread and your general health. The cancer cells can grow into surrounding blood vessels or organs such as the small bowel (duodenum). And may spread to other areas of the body.

More details on pancreatic cancer can be found below.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer doesn't usually cause symptoms in the early stages. As the cancer grows it can start to cause symptoms. These can include:

  • pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you're eating or lying down and better when you lean forward
  • yellowing of the skin or whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
  • changes to your poo (stools) such as diarrhoea or constipation
  • symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling bloated

If you have another condition like irritable bowel syndrome, you may get symptoms like these regularly.

You might find you get used to them. But it's important to be checked by a GP if your symptoms change, get worse or do not feel normal for you.

Many of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer are common, and so may be caused by other conditions. For this reason, pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage.

This campaign seeks to normalise people going to their GP if they notice anything unusual to them for a ‘Peace of Mind’ check.

If it is cancer, discovering it early, when it isn’t too large and hasn’t spread, improves the chances of successful treatment - finding cancer early helps save lives.

Making an appointment with your GP

If you are experience any of the following symptoms, or notice anything unusual for you please do not hesitate to see your GP or practice nurse, even if you are concerned about what your symptoms might be:

  • you've lost a noticeable amount of weight
  • you have other symptoms of pancreatic cancer that get worse or do not get better after 2 weeks
  • you have a condition that causes symptoms with your digestion that are not getting better after 2 weeks of using your usual treatments

Make sure you give your GP a good description of your symptoms, including any changes to your bowel habits.

It can help to keep a diary of your symptoms and how often you have them. Mention anything unusual to your GP, even if you are not sure if it is relevant.

Keep persisting to secure an appointment, as addressing your worry is crucial and unlikely to go away without seeking professional help.

Conversations with your GP are confidential, and you should not be embarrassed to share your symptoms with them – they are used to discussing intimate problems and will try to put you at ease.

What happens at your GP appointment?

During your appointment, the GP or practice nurse will inquire about your health and any symptoms you may be experiencing, including family history. If they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated, they may refer you to see a specialist in hospital for more tests. In some cases, this may be an urgent referral, usually within 2 weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.

If you have unexplained symptoms that last four weeks or more, go back to your GP until you get a firm diagnosis, or a referral for tests to find out what’s causing them. Some people see their GP several times before getting a diagnosis.

Find out more information and tips about seeing your GP on CRUK’s website here: Seeing your GP when you have symptoms of pancreatic cancer | Cancer Research UK

Causes of pancreatic cancer

It's not always clear what causes pancreatic cancer.

Anyone can get it, but you might be more at risk if:

  • you are over the age of 65 (it's not very common in people under 40)
  • you have certain medical conditions, such as chronic pancreatitis 
  • there's a history of pancreatic cancer in your family - between 5 and 10 in 100 people (5 to 10%) diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have a family history of it. You have an increased risk if you have a first degree relative with pancreatic cancer.
  • you have been diagnosed with new onset diabetes at age 50 or older, when associated with other symptoms such as weight loss

Many pancreatic cancers are also linked to lifestyle, such as:

  • smoking and smokeless tobacco – in the UK around 20% of cases of pancreatic cancer are caused by smoking
  • being overweight or obese – in the UK more than 10% of cases of pancreatic cancer are caused by being overweight

How to lower your risk of pancreatic cancer

You cannot always prevent pancreatic cancer. But making healthy changes can lower your chances of getting it. These include:

  • trying to lose weight if you're overweight
  • cutting down on how much red and processed meat (such as ham, bacon and salami) you eat
  • trying to cut down on alcohol – avoid drinking more than 14 units a week
  • trying to quit smoking

If you’re experiencing symptoms of pancreatic cancer, make an appointment with your GP to get Peace of Mind.

For more information about pancreatic cancer, including tests and treatment for pancreatic cancer, visit the following websites:

* Statistics and information taken from Cancer Research UK and NHS England