November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and according to Ipsos Reid, awareness is sorely lacking.
Only a third of Canadians say they know anything about this disease, even though it is the deadliest form of cancer, and the fourth largest cause of death from cancer in North America. Most people also vastly overestimate the survival rate, which is only 6%.
The problem may be that very few know a pancreatic cancer survivor – compared to 60% of us who know someone who’s gone through breast cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is also the most underfunded cancer when it comes to both charitable and research dollars. The symptoms can be quite nebulous – gastro-intestinal discomfort or jaundice – and they often don’t appear until it’s too late.
And many patients can get lost in the system – it often takes between one and three months to get a proper diagnosis after symptoms appear. It’s much too long given that most die within a year. Dr. Malcolm Moore says that is changing, at least at Princess Margaret Hospital.