Pancreatic Cancer UK was founded in 2003 by Sue Ballard, whose husband, John, died of pancreatic cancer. She was determined to raise the profile of the disease as well as well as funds for research into earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments. Sadly, Sue died in 2018 of ovarian cancer.


The aim of Pancreatic Cancer UK is to improve the lives of everyone affected by pancreatic cancer today, and to transform the future by funding world-class research.

To further this:

  • They provide expert, personalised support and information via their Support Line through a range of publications.
  • They fund innovative research to find the breakthroughs that will change how pancreatic cancer is understood, diagnosed and treated.
  • They campaign for change; for better care, treatment and research, and to increase recognition of pancreatic cancer.


Over the next five years, our ambition is to double the UK survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer.

Our research is ground breaking and will continue to be so with our new strategy, which will target our research funding to get the most for our money.

Our strategy will bring together researchers and people affected by pancreatic cancer to make the most difference.

We are committed to securing an increase in the amount spent on pancreatic cancer research in the UK by all funders, with an ambition to see the annual spend at £25 million per year by 2022.

The five key aspects of our research programme that will help us lead the way towards breakthroughs are:

  1. Supporting innovative research
  2. Supporting our Future Leaders in research
  3. Influencing others to increase funding
  4. Bringing researchers together
  5. Involving people affected by pancreatic cancer in our research programme

Research areas

Improving diagnosis

Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can take a long time, often with many visits to the doctors and possible misdiagnoses along the way.

Around 80% of pancreatic cancer patients are not diagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage.

At this late stage, surgery is usually not possible – and this is the only known treatment that has the potential to cure the disease. This means that around 80% of people are diagnosed too late to have the chance of being cured.

Not only do we need to have the tools and knowledge to diagnose people at an earlier stage, but we also need to make the diagnosis process faster so that we don’t waste any precious time in moving people onto potentially life-saving surgery or other treatments.

We will dedicate funding into improving early and rapid diagnosis to drive this change.

Discovering new treatments

Currently surgery is the only way that pancreatic cancer can potentially be cured, yet only 8% of people with pancreatic cancer receive this treatment.

Existing drugs for the condition often only provide small benefits in terms of survival outcomes, and while we have seen new drugs that have given families more time together, there haven’t been any dramatically significant advances in decades.

Other cancers have seen great progress in the development of new drugs and new types of treatment that can substantially improve chances of survival – we desperately need to see the same in pancreatic cancer.

There are promising areas of research that could deliver the breakthroughs in new treatments that we’re hoping for. This research needs funding to progress and deliver these much-needed treatments.

We will fund research that develops new treatments so that people with pancreatic cancer have more options, die within a year improved outcomes and better chances of survival.

Personalised medicine

We know that pancreatic cancer is not the same in everyone, and so every patient deserves treatments that reflect that.

We need to move forward to a position where patients only receive treatments that are most likely to work based on the type of pancreatic cancer they have. This will give everyone the best chance of survival, without going through unnecessary treatment.

We think that the key to improving treatment is further investigation of the different types of pancreatic cancer – and, importantly, identifying each type and finding ways to treat the specific type in each person.

We will fund research that will bring us closer to matching the right treatment with each person.

Getting the best treatment and care

To improve the survival rate of people with pancreatic cancer, and lengthen and improve lives, we need to ensure that everyone gets the absolute best treatment and care.

This may be different for everyone, but we will work to research and understand what the best care looks like and ensure that hospitals and other healthcare environments deliver that.