National charity Pancreatic Cancer Action and the Royal College of GPs have joined forces to develop the world’s first e-learning tool to help GPs diagnose pancreatic cancer earlier.

Pancreatic cancer is Britain’s fifth deadliest cancer with 22 people dying a day, yet this disease receives less than 1% of cancer research funding. The five year survival rate is only 3%, among the worst in Europe, and this figure has not changed for over 40 years. Most patients have a life expectancy of a mere four to six months on diagnosis. In the absence of a long term cure, earlier diagnosis is currently the only way forward providing patients with the potential for curative surgery.

The GP e-learning programme uses a case study format with video footage adding variety and reality enabling GPs to assess and improve their knowledge in the field of pancreatic cancer.

Dr Ishani Patel, the RCGP e-learning fellow and associate at the North West London Cancer Network says, “Very importantly this online learning course looks at both atypical presentations of the disease as well as the more classic symptoms of the illness. This will help GPs to ‘think cancer’ sooner and help primary care to diagnose pancreatic cancers earlier and improve survivorship.”

Ali Stunt, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action explains, “The biggest problem with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is that there is no one clear indicator of the illness. There are however a few key classic presentations and there are also many clusters of symptoms that should give rise to suspicion leading to referral and more in depth tests.”

Ali continues, “We hope that this e-learning module will contribute to improving survival rates for this grim disease through earlier diagnosis leading to the possibility of surgery. I am myself a survivor of this aggressive cancer and believe early diagnosis almost certainly saved my life. I am determined more people will have the same lucky outcome as I did.”

Classic pancreatic cancer symptoms are significant abdominal pain and/ or back pain, painless jaundice (yellow skin/eyes, dark urine), and significant and unexplained weight loss. Other common symptoms are new onset diabetes not associated with weight gain, pain in the upper abdomen that typically radiates to the back, indigestion or abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite or nausea and vomiting, pain when eating and steatorrhoea (fatty stools, often pale and smelly).

To find out more or view the pancreatic cancer early diagnosis tool visit

Pancreatic Cancer Action is a national charity committed to improving survival rates for Britain’s 5th deadliest cancer through greater awareness of the disease amongst the general public and medical community, improved information and research funding.



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