Breakthrough joins with Global Coalition to “Demand Better. For Patients. For Survival.” on World Pancreatic Cancer Day

Posted on: 15 Nov 2017

Breakthrough joins with Global Coalition to “Demand Better. For Patients. For Survival.” on World Pancreatic Cancer Day

In honor of World Pancreatic Cancer Day on Thursday, 16 November, people around the world will come together to Demand Better in the fight against the world’s toughest cancer, wearing purple to highlight the cause. The annual one-day campaign is an initiative of the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, which is comprised of more than 60 organisations from 27 countries on six continents.


Every day, more than 1,000 people worldwide will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Of that, an estimated 985 will die from the disease. In Ireland each year 518 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with 483 dying from the disease. Additionally, pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate among all major cancers, and in nearly every country, it is the only major cancer with a single-digit five-year survival rate (2-9 percent). In Ireland it has an 8.2% five year survival rate.  These stunning figures are not merely statistics, they represent family members, friends and colleagues on every corner of the globe.


Orla Dolan, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Cancer Research (Breakthrough), Irelands only member of the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, states, “There is currently no screening test or early detection method for pancreatic cancer, and though research is being conducted in these areas, knowing the symptoms and risks remains the key to early diagnosis. Research shows that patients diagnosed in time for surgery are more likely to live five years and beyond. Therefore, early diagnosis is vital. We will be wearing purple on Thursday and encouraging everyone to do so to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.”


Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include

  • Painless jaundice (yellow skin or eyes, dark urine)
  • Significant and unexplained weight loss
  • New onset of persistent abdominal discomfort
  • Persistent dyspepsia or indigestion not alleviated by medication
  • Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full when eating
  • Unexplained back pain, often eased by sitting upright


As part of World Pancreatic Cancer Day in Ireland, Breakthrough and University College Cork are launching their third in their series of cookbook for cancer patients. The Nourishing Your Body during Pancreatic Cancer Treatment cookbook is specifically aimed at patients undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer and is available free of charge to cancer patients throughout Ireland. Following the award-winning ‘Good Nutrition for Cancer Recovery’ cookbook and the ‘Eating Well with swallowing difficulties in cancer cookbook, the same team of oncologists, dietitians and chefs based in University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), developed a cookbook with over 90  recipes.


The team behind the cookbook include Dr. Aoife Ryan and Dr Eadaoin Ní Bhuachalla from UCC with input from Dr. Derek Power, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Cork and Mercy University Hospitals and Ms Jane Healy and Ms Anne O’Connor, lecturers in the Culinary Arts in CIT.


Dr. Aoife Ryan, Dietitian and Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences in UCC and co-author of the cookbook states, “Cancer-induced weight loss affects 30-80% of patients with solid tumours and is associated with poorer tolerance to chemotherapy, impaired quality of life, more frequent hospital admissions and significantly reduced survival. Scientific studies have consistently show that patients with pancreatic cancer experience the most severe forms of weight loss and malnutrition. The result can be rapid weight loss over a short period of time which is often referred to as ‘cachexia’. It is a huge challenge for these patients to stabilise their weight and an even bigger challenge to get them to gain weight.”


Dr Ryan continued, “There are many fad diets promoted to cancer patients online and through cookbooks but this book has been approved by Irish Doctors and Dietitians with endorsement by the Irish Society of Medical Oncology, Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute”.


Over 9,000 copies of the book are available free of charge to cancer patients through their hospitals, a free e-book is also available from, along with a hard copy version for a €5 donation to cover postage.


Ms Dolan welcomes the publication of the cookbook stating, “We are delighted to have helped part-fund this important cookbook for patients going through treatment for pancreatic cancer. It is imperative that patients receive the appropriate nutritional care during treatment to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment. That is where this cookbook can help by providing evidence-based recipes approved by Dietitians and Oncologists. The recipes contained within the cookbook are simple, nourishing and enjoyable --­­­­ more importantly, all of the recipes are easy to chew, swallow and were created specifically for patients who are losing weight.”


Breakthrough is leading the way with research into cancers with poor prognosis such as pancreatic cancer. They work closely with clinicians, dietitians and cancer researchers to ensure that the research they fund responds to the needs of patients with cancers that do not respond to conventional therapies.


Ms Dolan continued, “Last year Breakthrough funded a new Pancreatic Research Fellowship which is investigating combining a new ‘modulating’ molecule which has the ability to stop pancreatic cancers from suppressing the human immune system with Breakthrough funded electroporation expertise and technology. The aim is to develop an exciting new combination therapy which would be an important step forward in our battle against this disease.”


Buildings across Ireland are also lighting up in purple to support the campaign with UCC, the Convention Centre Dublin and City Hall in Cork turning purple for the day. To learn more about getting involved in the worldwide movement dedicated to creating a better future for those fighting pancreatic cancer, visit: To support pancreatic cancer research here in Ireland go to

Watch the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition video



This year, the Coalition invites the global community to take action to raise awareness of this deadly disease by:

  • Understanding the symptoms and risks of this disease. Visit for infographics and information on pancreatic cancer.
  • Spreading the word and sharing the educational materials to help inform family, friends, coworkers and social media followers about the symptoms and risks and what to do to support earlier diagnosis.
  • Following the Coalition on social media:
    • Twitter/Instagram: @worldpancreatic;
    • Facebook: @worldpancreaticcancerday
  • Temporarily changing your Facebook or Instagram profile picture to support World Pancreatic Cancer Day and post using hashtag #wpcd and #pancreaticcancer.
  • Wearing purple on World Pancreatic Cancer Day (Nov. 16).
  • Lighting buildings, monuments or homes purple.
  • Asking your public officials to support more government funding of pancreatic cancer research.

To support pancreatic cancer research, donate here

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