Health and Wellbeing

Prevention in Action – Recognising risk factors before it’s too late

Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of all the common cancers. It has seen little to no improvement in its survival rates for close to 50 years. At Pancreatic Cancer Action, we focus on campaigning to improve early diagnosis and to save lives. However, we also campaign to reduce the risk of people ever developing pancreatic cancer.

Smoking is the greatest modifiable risk factor for pancreatic cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of all pancreatic cancer cases. However, research has shown that risk can be reduced once a person has quit smoking. As pancreatic cancer is the deadliest cancer of all the common cancers, any effort to reduce risk is crucial.

Here are just some of the benefits of quitting:

Pancreatic Cancer Action
  • A typical packet of cigarettes costs £8.50 so a 20-a-day smoker who quits will save over £3,100 per year!
  • Risk of pancreatic cancer starts to decrease 10 years after quitting and the risk fully reverses to that of a never-smoker 20 years after quitting.
  • Diabetes is not only a risk factor for pancreatic cancer but also an illness that long-term smokers can develop. 5 years after quitting, the risk of diabetes occurring returns to that of a non-smoker.
  • The physical benefits of smoking cessation can be felt as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop and after 12 hours the level of carbon monoxide in the blood returns to normal.

So, what are we at PCA doing to influence change and support people to quit?

During Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month last year, we launched our new campaign, ‘Prevention in Action’. Since then, we have delivered thousands of leaflets and flyers to GP practices, pharmacies, community centres, sports clubs, businesses and more. These leaflets and flyers have been put out in some of the areas with the highest deprivation in the UK and where the number of smokers remains high.

Working with Ash Scotland, we have included a special QR code on our resources which links to the ‘NHS Inform Quit Your Way’ website, allowing instant support for those wishing to quit smoking and where to access it.

Heater outside parkhead schoolhouse with prevention in action materials

We are lobbying Governments in all four nations to invest more in supporting people to quit smoking and to introduce new policies to stop new people from taking up smoking.

In Scotland, we have joined the Scottish Coalition on Tobacco (SCOT) to lend our weight to those campaigning to shape change for a positive future for the public health of Scotland. We have also partnered with ASH Scotland to share information and best practice and create new policy ideas and solutions for a tobacco-free Scotland. In England, we published an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care calling on him to fully implement the recommendations of the Khan Review and make England smoke-free by 2030. Prevention of cancer and proposals around the future of tobacco sales also make up a major part of our response to the UK Government’s consultation on a new ‘Major Conditions Strategy’.

Prevention in action leaflets in situ

We are now taking our ‘Prevention in Action’ campaign to the next level as we develop a digital toolkit that will include slides displaying information about the relationship between smoking and pancreatic cancer and signposting for support.

Working with major healthcare services, community services, transport stations and businesses, these slides will be shown up and down the UK to raise awareness. If you’d like to get involved or know of a place that would like to display this information, then please email

In the run-up to No Smoking Day on Wednesday 8th March 2023, we will be showing support across our social media channels.

If you want support to Quit Your Way, please visit: