In the UK, pancreatic cancer incidence rates are 9.6 per 100,000 of the population. This compares to a European average of 10.5 per 100,000 for the 27 EU countries. The UK’s incidence level is also lower than three of the four other major EU countries, with only Spain showing a lower incidence rate of 9.4 per 100,000.
When it comes to pancreatic cancer mortality, the UK’s rate is lower than the EU 27 average and also lower than all other EURO4 countries except Spain. The UK pancreatic cancer mortality rate is 9 per 100,000 compared to an EU average of 10.1 per 100,000.
The UK five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is particularly low, making the UK the second worst performing country in Europe after Iceland. In the UK only 3% of patients with pancreatic cancer survive five years after diagnosis while in Europe it is almost 6% on average.
EUROCARE, database 5, 2014.
EUROCARE, Data and methods, 2014. Available at https://w3.iss.it/site/EU5Results/docs/Documentation_on_data_and_methods.pdf
The patient experience for those with upper gastrointestinal cancers is varied but tends to be around the average for all cancers in the UK.1
According to the 2015 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, which surveys over 100,000 cancer patients in the UK, over one in five pancreatic cancer patients felt that their illness was not well explained to them, which is higher than the average for all cancers.1 More positively, however only 16.6% of patients did not understand the treatment they were given. This is better than the average for all cancers, which was 17.3%.
Pancreatic cancer patients diverged most from those with other types of cancer on waiting times. Patients with pancreatic cancer more frequently reported that they had to wait too long before receiving appropriate diagnostic tests compared with other cancers, (17.1% vs. 13.4% for all cancers).1
Given the difficulty in diagnosing pancreatic cancer as opposed to other cancers, it is important that the NHS in England focuses on earlier diagnosis and treatment.