Today, November 18th, is World Pancreatic Cancer Day. The GHA has marked the day by raising a purple flag at St Bernard’s Hospital and lighting the entrance to the hospital in purple with a view to increase public awareness of the disease, its symptoms and ways to reduce the risk of developing it.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most fatal cancer in both men and women, and the death rate due to this disease is increasing across Europe. It usually arises in elderly patients with a mean age at onset of 71 years for men and 75 years for women. One of the main reasons for its high fatality rate is that the majority of patients progress to the advanced stages of the disease without showing any symptoms.
However, simple, long-term changes to our behaviour and maintaining a healthy weight can have a huge impact on reducing the risk of developing pancreatic cancer later in life.
Common symptoms of pancreatic cancers include jaundice, abdominal pain, weight loss, steatorrhea (fatty stools), and new onset diabetes. If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, it is important that you consult your doctor immediately.
Consultant Surgeon on Pancreatic Cancer, Mr Alfonso Antequera, said: “The best way to fight pancreatic cancer is to prevent it and avoid the main risk factors which include tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes and an unhealthy lifestyle in general.”
The Minister for Health, Samantha Sacramento, said: “Early diagnosis is the key to survival. Raising awareness of Pancreatic Cancer every year by working closely with Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Gibraltar to educate the public is crucial and can make all the difference to somebody’s life. It is the GHA’s mission to improve the rate of early detection by raising awareness to be able to combat this fatal disease”.