Just one in 10 GPs says they have the tools they need to diagnose pancreatic cancer early enough for treatment, according to Pancreatic Cancer UK.
A quarter of all patients found to have the disease die within a month of being diagnosed, and it has the lowest survival rate of any of the common cancers.
The vague nature of its symptoms – such as back pain, indigestion and weight-loss – mean that it often goes undetected until it has spread to other parts of the body, ruling out the only possible treatment option – surgery.
Pancreatic Cancer UK’s survey of more than 1,000 family doctors found that half had some of the tools they needed, but few felt confident they were fully equipped to diagnose the illness at an early stage.
Referral by GPs who suspect the presence of the disease for ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans significantly improves survival rates, however currently most diagnoses are the result of an emergency.
GP Dr Ellie Cannon says she “can’t access scans quickly enough”.
“The survival rates for pancreatic cancer have really not changed in 40 years so when you compare that to other cancers the situation is really very very bad,” she said.