Two nurses in dark blue uniforms are sitting down. The nurses are from the Macmillan Prehabilitation Team. They are facing towards a patient who is also sitting down. The patient has on a long grey top and grey dungarees. Behind them are exercise machines.

Pancreatic cancer awareness month

November is pancreatic cancer awareness month. About 10,500 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year.  Discover what support is available from Macmillan for people with pancreatic cancer.

What is pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that starts in the pancreas. The pancreas is part of the digestive system.

There are several different types of pancreatic cancer. Types are described based on:

  • where it is in the pancreas
  • the type of cell they start from.

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

"Like so many diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I had no obvious or immediate symptoms and had none of the normal associated risk factors." - Carole, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Pancreatic cancer may not cause symptoms for a long time. Some people may only have one symptom.

Some possible symptoms are:

  • pain and discomfort in the upper part of the tummy (abdomen) that sometimes spreads out into the back
  • signs of jaundice such as yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, itchy skin, dark pee (urine) or pale and smelly poo (stools) that are difficult to flush away (steatorrhoea)
  • unexplained weight loss.

Most people with these symptoms will not have pancreatic cancer. They may be caused by other more common conditions.  But if you have any symptoms, it is important to get them checked by your doctor.

Find out more about symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

How is pancreatic cancer treated?

Treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on:

  • the stage and grade of the cancer
  • the position of the cancer in the pancreas
  • your general health and preferences.

Treatment for pancreatic cancer may include:

You may also have treatment to help with symptoms.

Your doctor will usually meet with other specialists to get their opinion on treatment. You will also have the opportunity to talk about your treatment options. Read about making treatment decisions.

"My mum died 30 years previously of pancreatic cancer. Whilst I never thought it would be this, I was insistent they look into it further." -Pat, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016

Support and information from Macmillan

Zalekha Asghar is part of the Energy Advice Team and works on the Macmillan Support Line. She is pictured sitting at a computer. She has long dark hair and is wearing a colourful green and white with red striped top. She has on a headset with a microphone to answer phone calls.

Macmillan Support Line

Jai and Mandeep are sitting in chairs in a waiting area. Jai is wearing a long, dark coat and is holding open a booklet. Next to him is Mandeep who is wearing a long sleeved white top. Both appear to be talking to each other.

Personalised information and support

Sanchia Biswas is sitting on the right side of a blue two seater sofa. She has long dark hair and is wearing a green Macmillan lanyard and a black and white patterned dress. Next to her on the left is another person sat on the sofa. This person has short dark hair and is wearing a grey dress.

Emotional support

Rae is a Macmillan Clinical Advisor. Rae is sitting at a desk in their home. They have short, curly hair and are wearing a long cardigan, scarf and jeans. On the desk is a laptop, plant, water bottle. Rae is also wearing a head set to speak to people.

Money and work support

A man looking at the Online Community website from his laptop.

Pancreatic cancer forum

A pair appear outside and walking up a flight of stairs. The older person on the left is wearing a blue jumper and a blue jacket. The person on the right is wearing a white top and white jacket. They are also carrying a white shopping bag.

Support if you care for someone with cancer

Bill's story

"It's hugely important to continue to raise awareness. Although it is now 'ancient' it continues to demonstrate how lucky I am to still be here so many years later." - Carole

How can I raise awareness of Pancreatic Cancer?