Early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer could save lives, stresses sister of victim

Darren Beattie


Darren Beattie



A Drumlegagh woman who lost her brother to one of the biggest cancer killers has warned anyone suffering from any of its symptoms to take no chances and see their GP immediately.

The warning came from Mrs June McElhill, whose brother, Ross Alexander, was just 36 when he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. 

Her wise counsel came as World Pancreatic Cancer Day was marked on Thursday last. One of the most deadliest cancers in Northern Ireland, campaigners are demanding more attention, awareness and progress to help patients fight and survive this disease.

Pancreatic cancer is a major health issue for the province, with around 270 deaths per annum. With fewer than one in 20 affected by the disease surviving for more than five years, it has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer. Tragically, survival rates today are much the same as they were 40 years ago. 

The first noticeable symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often: pain in the back or stomach area – which may come and go at first and is often worse when lying down or after eating; unexpected weight loss and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).

Mrs McElhill lost her brother to the disease 10 years ago in October and says she knew little about it this particulal type of cancer until he was tragically diagnosed.

Full story in this week's Tyrone Constitution.

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