UEG press release

Experts call for a new approach to reducing cases of pancreatic cancer

November 10, 2015

Experts call for a new approach to reducing cases of pancreatic cancer 

(Vienna, November 10, 2015) Pancreatic cancer survival rates have remained at an alarmingly low 3 to 6% for more than 40 years. Ahead of World Pancreatic Cancer Day, 13 November 2015, United European Gastroenterology (UEG) call for greater action from healthcare providers and governments on pancreatic cancer and new public health initiatives to raise awareness of symptoms and risk factors and ensure earlier diagnosis and an increase in survival rates.

Pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common cancer in Europe, with approximately 104,000 newly diagnosed cases annually yet, according to Matthias Löhr, UEG pancreatic cancer specialist, knowledge of the disease is alarmingly low. “Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease with highly unmet medical need.  It is vital that there is more awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of pancreatic cancer among the public and medical community to allow more people to be diagnosed in time for surgery – currently the only potential for a cure".

Chronic pancreatitis and diabetes as well as lifestyle and environmental factors such as, obesity and smoking are well-recognised major risk factors for pancreatic cancer but collectively only account for less than half of all pancreatic cancer cases. According to UEG’s Survey of Digestive Health across Europe, increased risks for people with diabetes have been reported as between 40% and 120% and people who smoke have been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis (a pre-cursor to pancreatic cancer) ten years earlier than non-smokers. In fact, The European (EPIC) study showed that passive smoking, either in the home or at work, can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 50 per cent and that children who are exposed daily to tobacco smoke have double the risk of contracting pancreatic cancer in later life.

However, recent research also indicates a strong link between pancreatic cancer and common bacterial infections. Epidemiological data suggest that Helicobacter pylori, a common strain of bacteria found in the stomach, may be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. These bacterial infections may contribute to the progression of pancreatic cancer by acting jointly with other risk factors that impact inflammation and immune response, such as smoking and obesity.

“A well as action from healthcare providers, increasing public awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and following some simple lifestyle improvements will go a long way to ensuring that pancreatic cancer survival rates dramatically improve within the next few years" adds Professor Löhr. “Symptoms to look out for include: abdominal or back pain, weight loss, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea and changes in stools and I recommend to all my patients that they can reduce risk of any cancer by following a balanced diet, taking regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking and visiting the dentist regularly".


Notes to Editors

Available for interview

Professor Matthias Löhr, UEG spokesperson and European pancreatic cancer expert, Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology (CLINTEC), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

About World Pancreatic Cancer Day – November 13th 2015

WPCD is an awareness initiative set up by a group of international pancreatic cancer organisations. For further information see pancreaticcanceraction.org/support-us/awareness-month/world-pancreatic-cancer-day-2/

Worldwide there are around 280,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer each year and it is the seventh biggest cancer killer (fifth in the UK), yet so many people know nothing about it. But they can be forgiven for that because unfortunately, it barely gets attention. This cancer is chronically underfunded and has languished in the ‘too-hard-to-deal-with’ category for far too long. This is reflected in the dire survival rates between 3 to 6%, which haven’t improved for more than 40 years. More awareness and understanding about the illness among the public, medical community and government and the resulting investment and interest in the disease will allow more people to be diagnosed in time for surgery – currently the only potential for a cure.

About UEG

UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a member of The European Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Pancreatic Cancer, which aims at bringing the burden of pancreatic cancer to the attention of EU-level decision-makers and improving public and especially political awareness of the disease. The EMSPPC calls for an EU-wide network of pancreatic cancer registries and earlier diagnosis through greater research funding.

UEG is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge.

To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including: 

  • UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world.
  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion
  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations
  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology
  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe

Find out more about UEG’s work by visiting http://www.ueg.eu/press/ or contact:        

Luke Paskins media@ueg.eu    

Tel: +44(0)1444 811099    



  1. www.pancan.org/section-about/news-press-center/2012-press-releases/survival-rate-for-pancreatic-cancer-remains-unchanged-while-other-leading-cancers-see-an-increase-in-their-relative-survival-rates/
  2. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/pancreatic-cancer/incidence#ref-5
  3. Michaud DS Role of bacterial infections in pancreatic cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2013 Oct; 34 (10): 2193-7
  4. Vrieling, A., et al., Cigarette smoking, environmental tobacco smoke exposure and pancreatic cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Int J Cancer 2009.
  5. Chuan,S.C., Gallo, V., Michaud, D., et al.,  Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in childhood and incidence of cancer in adulthood in never smokers in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition. Cancer Causes Control 2011. 22(3):487-94.
  6. Michaud DS Role of bacterial infections in pancreatic cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2013 Oct; 34 (10): 2193-7



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