If research is examining factors that may make pancreatic cancer more or less likely, (for example the effect of diet or smoking), observational studies are often the chosen type. Observational studies can take place prospectively (before a disease has occurred) or retrospectively (looking back from a disease at how it may have developed).
The observational studies with the most widely accepted results follow large groups of people over a long period of time. One group who take part in the behaviour the study is interested in (i.e. smoking) and one group who do not. At the end of the study, the differences in cancer rates in the two groups would be compared. Observational studies for pancreatic cancer have previously looked at things like allergies and diet and their effect on the chances of getting the disease.
Observational studies can show that there is an association between a factor or behaviour and pancreatic cancer. The results of observational studies often need to be confirmed using repeated or different types of study. It is unlikely that you would be asked to take part in an observational study. But if you do, you are contributing towards knowledge of pancreatic cancer and how to prevent it.
Pancreatic Cancer Action and observational research
Pancreatic Cancer Action funds and takes part in research into pancreatic cancer, focusing on our aim of early diagnosis. We carry out survey research into symptom and risk awareness. We believe in raising the profile of pancreatic cancer amongst the public and health care professionals.
We produce health information campaigns on a local and regional level to increase knowledge of pancreatic cancer and prompt people to visit health care professionals with symptoms. Alongside this we work with pharmacies and GPs to encourage them to think pancreatic cancer and increase early diagnosis of the disease. PCA measures the outcomes of these campaigns to understand their effectiveness and the needs of different populations.