Wednesday, 12 February 2014

"I wish I had breast cancer": Pancreatic Cancer Campaign

Pancreatic cancer campaign has caused controversy and outrage with its slogan having patients wish they had more common types of cancer such as breast and testicular. Some say this is insensitive to breast cancer patients and people who lost loved ones to the disease. Why would they have such a slogan, then?

The campaign aimed at raising awareness of pancreatic cancer by stirring some kind of cancer type 'envy'. It was launched by the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action. Cancers like breast cancer are more common and they are in the light of public awareness. Their survival rate is tied to early detection by regular tests.

On the other hand, pancreatic cancer has a 3% survival rate and a five-year expectant life or survival. This survival rate is 85% in breast cancer and 97% in pancreatic cancer.

The ads (which are in the links below) feature pancreatic cancer patients saying "I wish I had testicular cancer" and "I wish I had breast cancer". Meanwhile, information about symptoms and statistics of survival appear on the screen.  

The critics say the ad is "horribly insensitive" and "repugnant".

The charity founder, Ali Stunt, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, defends the campaign:

"When I was diagnosed I was horrified to learn the survival rate and actually found myself wishing I had a different type of cancer. 
"I understand that any type of cancer is a horrible, horrible disease - not least metastatic breast cancer [that which has spread] - and would not wish cancer on anyone.
'But there are patients with pancreatic cancer who would prefer to have another type with a better prognosis [such as breast or testicular]. 
'Eighty-two per cent of patients with pancreatic cancer will die within a year and the average life expectancy is four-six months.'
She added that many patients have not even heard of pancreatic cancer before they are diagnosed with the disease - despite it being the ninth most common cancer in the UK and fifth most common cause of cancer death, killing 8,000 people in the country every year.

She adds, "Awareness is key to early diagnosis and this is particularly true for pancreatic cancer. 
"In our case, despite the best efforts of ourselves and other pancreatic cancer organisations, for 40 years, pancreatic cancer patients in the UK have faced the same grim prognosis.'
But in a statement, Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said:  'We strongly dispute any message which suggests that one type of cancer is preferable to another.
'"e believe Pancreatic Cancer Action’s recent campaign does just this. I’ve yet to meet a man or woman with breast cancer who would consider themselves in any way fortunate to have received a diagnosis.
"It’s utterly misleading to imply that breast cancer is a more desirable form of the disease. Cancer does not discriminate; 12,000 women die each year from breast cancer in the UK and more than 8,000 people die each year from pancreatic cancer, which is truly devastating.
"More than 160,000 people lost their lives to cancer in the UK in 2011, we must avoid a "competition in cancer" and work together to stop this unacceptable burden.
"Of course we acknowledge the work of all charities dedicated to stopping cancer, and hope that we can collaborate to stop people from getting, and dying from, all types of the disease."

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