Health and Wellbeing

Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Month

This July is Ethnic Minority Cancer Awareness Month and we are gathering research on some of the inequalities in pancreatic cancer and how we can work to improve early diagnosis.

Pancreatic cancer can affect anyone, but not everyone has the same outcomes from the disease. Early diagnosis is essential for survival, only early stage patients are eligible for potentially curative surgery.

Nearly half of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed as an emergency, associated with later stage presentation. Emergency presentation is more common in black and mixed-race people then other ethnic groups and people report more barriers to seeing their GP. Once people present. they require more visits to their GP before they are referred to a hospital and, in this time, patient’s disease may progress and affect survival.

One-year survival is 12% for those diagnosed as an emergency, compared to over 25% for GP referral and two week wait patients. Therefore, it is essential to close the gap between groups so that everyone can be diagnosed early, and survival improves for all.

Regardless of your route to diagnosis, if you are in a lower socioeconomic group, your survival rate is lower and you are more likely to be exposed to risks that increase your chances of getting pancreatic cancer (for example, increased rates of smoking). This has a disproportionate effect on black and minority ethnic people and creates structural barriers to survival for anyone living with any level of deprivation.

Furthermore, across cancer sites, once diagnosed, black patients receive less information and are offered less access to support and other services throughout their treatment. These inequalities lead to a worse patient experience and unfairly and negatively impacts on quality of life and survival.

We need to understand these inequalities and how they intersect. We also need to work to reach more people than ever before with the message about pancreatic cancer. We must reduce the stigma around the disease and push the message about early diagnosis and the fact pancreatic cancer can be survived.

Moving forward, Pancreatic Cancer Action will be campaigning to highlight inequalities for patients, improve our reach as a charity and conduct projects to engage with the public and health care professionals to help close the inequalities gap in pancreatic cancer and improve early diagnosis for everyone.