By Lucy Ashton
Jackie Baillie is backing the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce’s (LSCT) Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day 2023 to highlight the critical importance of symptom awareness in improving survival and quality of life for people diagnosed with these cancers.
The LSCT represents six less survivable cancers, lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach, with an average five-year survival rate of just 16 percent. Together, these less survivable cancers make up nearly half of all common cancer deaths in Scotland.
Less survivable cancers are difficult to diagnose. Screening programmes are limited or non-existent and most of the general public are unaware of common symptoms.
A UK-wide survey carried out by the LSCT has found that awareness of the symptoms of these deadliest cancers is dangerously low across the country.
Only 2 percent of respondents in Scotland and 1 percent in the UK were able to correctly identify all symptoms of liver cancer from a list presented to them.
Symptom awareness for oesophogeal and stomach cancers fared slightly better at 3 percent and 5 percent respectively while only 7 percent of respondents knew all the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. 13 percent of people could spot the signs of lung cancer while knowledge of brain tumour symptoms was higher but still only 20 percent.
As well as a focus on symptom awareness, the LSCT is calling for all UK governments to commit to increasing survival rates for less survivable cancers to 28 percent by 2029 by eliminating avoidable delays in diagnosis and proactively investing in research and treatment options.
Dumbarton constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie said: “Each year more than 9,000 people in Scotland are diagnosed with a less survivable cancer and it’s a tragedy that this results in such a brutally short life expectancy. I’m pleased to support Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day and to help raise awareness of the symptoms of these cancers.”
Lorraine Dallas, Chair of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce Scotland group, said: “It is deeply concerning that most of the general public are unaware of common symptoms of less survivable cancers.
“It’s one of the many challenges that we’re facing in the fight against these deadly diseases. All of the less survivable cancers are difficult to diagnose and treatment options are falling far behind those for more-survivable but equally common cancers.
“The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce is urging everyone to be aware of the symptoms of these six cancers and to seek medical help at the earliest opportunity if they recognise any of the signs.
“We’re also calling on all UK governments to commit to increasing survival rates for less survivable cancers to 28 percent by 2029 by delivering on their commitments to speed up diagnosis and proactively investing in research and treatment options. And we’re delighted that Jackie Baillie is supporting our Less Survivable Cancers Awareness Day.”
Meanwhile, the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce is urging everyone to be aware of the symptoms of these deadly cancers and to seek medical help at the earliest opportunity if they recognise any of the signs.
Typical symptoms will vary but red flags for less survivable cancers could include any of the following; persistent indigestion, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, a loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, a persistent cough, unexplained tiredness, headaches or nausea.
The most important thing is to seek medical help swiftly if you notice anything unusual for you. You can find more information about these cancers at www.lesssurvivablecancers.org.uk.
The survey was carried out by Sapio Research in November 2022 on behalf of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, and conducted among 2001 consumers across the UK.
Red flag symptoms for Less Survivable Cancers:
- Brain: Vision and speech problems, headaches, nausea, vomiting, seizures, mental or behavioural changes.
- Liver: Unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite, feeling and being sick, pain or swelling in your abdomen, jaundice, itchy skin, tiredness, fever, vomiting blood, dark urine.
- Lung: A persistent cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, feeling tired or weak.
- Oesophageal: difficulty swallowing, indigestion or heartburn, loss of appetite, vomiting, stomach, chest or back pain, a persistent cough, hoarseness, tiredness and shortness of breath.
- Pancreatic: Pain in the back or stomach, loss of appetite, unexpected weight loss, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), indigestion, changes in bowel habits.
- Stomach: indigestion that doesn’t go away, trapped wind, heartburn, feeling bloated or full very quickly when eating small amounts, feeling or being sick, tummy pain or pain behind the breastbone, difficulty swallowing, unexpected weight loss.