It has a devastatingly low survival rate, and now worrying data has revealed that incidence of pancreatic cancer has doubled over the last 20 years.
The new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has led to the deadly disease being officially acknowledged as a common cancer.
Pancreatic cancer claims the lives of 80 per cent of people who are diagnosed within 12 months. It has a five-year survival rate of only 12.5 per cent - the lowest of all common cancers. In regional areas, this figure drops to just 6.8 per cent.
More than 4500 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and an estimated 3669 people will lose their lives. Experts predict it will claim more lives than breast cancer this year.
PanKind chief executive Michelle Stewart said the high mortality rate of the cancer resulted in "limited visibility" and "reduced public awareness".
"With the disease now acknowledged to be a common cancer, there has never been a more critical time to call for increased focus and funding," she said.
Miss World Australia finalist Tirah Ciampa was diagnosed with the disease in February.
The Hobart resident said she had lived with the symptoms for a year prior to diagnosis, as they progressively worsened.
In that time, the 27-year-old's weight plummeted from 58-49kg and she suffered bouts of excruciating back and abdominal pain which she attributed to cramps.
"When I was diagnosed, I had no idea what pancreatic cancer was - I'd never heard of the disease before," she said.
"When I started researching more about the disease, I realised how lucky I was to have it detected as early as I did, and this saved my life."
PanKind's 2021 Consumer Awareness Survey found only one in 10 Australians are aware that pancreatic cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in Australia. In addition, 53 per cent are not aware of the signs or symptoms.
Since 2010, PanKind has invested over $12 million into pancreatic cancer research at Australia's top research institutions, including $1.5 million towards the PanKind Early Detection Initiative,
For more information on pancreatic cancer click here.
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