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Global Survey Finds That Pancreatic Cancer, a Leading Cause of Cancer Deaths, is Virtually Unknown by Many in Europe and US

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While it may not be surprising that breast and lung cancers are top of mind when people hear the word “cancer,” 60% of respondents to a recent six-country survey about cancer awareness know almost nothing about pancreatic cancer, a leading cancer killer. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US and is projected to be the second highest cause of death from cancer in the US by 2020. The overall five-year survival rate in the US and Europe is less than 7%; this rate has been low for many years and is among the lowest for common cancers in the US and across most countries in Europe.

Today, in observance of the first ever World Pancreatic Cancer Day, Celgene joins with the international pancreatic cancer patient advocacy community to raise the level of education and awareness about this cancer and the need for change. In support of this effort, Celgene is releasing results of a Global Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Omnibus Survey of more than 7,000 adults in the United States and Europe. The survey was sponsored by Celgene and conducted by Ipsos in early 2014 and was designed to assess the level of awareness and knowledge about pancreatic cancer, the degree of interest in learning more about this deadly cancer, and the level of support for expanded research efforts.

The survey affirmed that the majority (84%) of adults in these countries view cancer as a serious public health problem, topping a list of diseases that also included heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes and mental illness. When all respondents were asked, unaided, which specific cancers are top of mind, just 2% of those surveyed mentioned pancreatic cancer as the first type of cancer that came to mind, while 37% mentioned breast cancer and 20% mentioned lung cancer. This picture changed dramatically, however, when all respondents were made aware of the poor survival associated with pancreatic cancer, with more than 70% indicating they would be extremely/very supportive of a public awareness campaign supporting more public education about pancreatic cancer and about half of all respondents indicating they would take action to support public awareness.

“The Global Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Omnibus survey underscores the ongoing need to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and to support efforts for additional resources for research,” said Julie Fleshman, president and chief executive officer, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “It’s clear that when people understand the seriousness of pancreatic cancer they want to take action. The first-ever World Pancreatic Cancer Day set by the international pancreatic cancer advocacy community offers the perfect opportunity to start turning this aspiration into a global effort to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer and make a difference in the lives of those diagnosed with this cancer.”

As part of World Pancreatic Cancer Day, the international pancreatic cancer patient advocacy community, with the support of Celgene, is embarking on several initiatives to jumpstart efforts to call attention to pancreatic cancer. Anyone interested in participating in the first ever World Pancreatic Cancer Day can visit www.worldpancreaticcancerday.org for more information on activities happening around the world and use #WPCD2014, #WorldPancreaticCancerDay in social media posts.

“Celgene has long been committed to addressing the needs of pancreatic cancer patients and is proud to be partnering with pancreatic cancer organizations around the world to raise awareness about the disease and the progress made thus far against this deadly cancer,” said Markus Renschler, MD, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Hematology & Oncology Medical Affairs for Celgene. “Putting a dent in the rather grim pancreatic cancer statistics will be challenging, but with appropriate treatment and the more than 170 global clinical trials evaluating investigational treatments in approximately 35,000 patients we believe outcomes will be improved for patients with this deadly disease.”

Additional survey findings showed:

Pancreatic Cancer:

  • In both the US and Europe, pancreatic cancer is the cancer type respondents are least knowledgeable about among seven common cancers, with 49% in the US and 64% in Europe saying they know almost nothing about it, with Spain and France being the least knowledgeable (26% and 35% know a lot or a fair amount).
  • In the US and Europe, three in four respondents feel it is very important that the public be aware of pancreatic cancer; this is on par with feelings about awareness of other cancers (breast, lung, melanoma/skin, colon, prostate, and ovarian).
  • 61% of respondents in all countries surveyed rank supporting ways to increase screening and earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer as being among the most important goals in terms of raising awareness about pancreatic cancer, followed by a call for more research to prevent this type of cancer (53%). Both France and the UK rated the goal to increase screening and earlier diagnosis higher than other countries (69% and 70%, respectively).
  • Women (42%) are more likely than men (33%) to rank supporting ways to increase screening and earlier diagnosis as a top goal; this was true for every country surveyed but Spain. Men are more likely to consider more research into its prevention (28% vs. 25%), fundraising for improved treatments (14% vs. 12%), and raising awareness about lack of progress in treatments (13% vs. 11%) as important goals when it comes to raising public awareness about pancreatic cancer.

Progress Against Cancer

  • The majority of adults in the EU (88%) and US (89%) strongly/somewhat agree that while progress has been made against cancer, more should have been done over the past 20 years.
  • Respondents in the US and Europe hold nearly identical views regarding improvements in treating cancer. There is near universal agreement that there should be a greater focus on improving treatments and finding cures, with two thirds strongly agreeing.

Knowledge About and Experience with Cancer

  • Breast cancer is the most-cited type of cancer followed by lung cancer in every country, with more than one-third of all respondents mentioning breast cancer as the cancer type that first comes to mind when they hear the word “cancer.”
    • Top-of-mind mentions of breast cancer are particularly high in the UK (46%), France (45%), and Spain (40%) relative to other types of cancer, but less so in Germany (29%), where it is mentioned only slightly more frequently than lung cancer, and in Italy (29%).
  • Compared to those surveyed in Europe, respondents in the US are more likely to consider themselves knowledgeable regarding all of the types of cancer presented (breast, lung, melanoma/skin, colon, prostate, ovarian, pancreatic). Knowledge levels tend to be highest for breast and lung cancers – which also are the cancers that are most top-of-mind.
    • For example, 78% in the US and 66% in Europe know a lot/at least a fair amount about breast cancer. For lung cancer, a lot/at least a fair amount is known by 71% in the US and 59% in Europe. Conversely, 49% in the US and 64% in Europe surveyed said they know almost nothing about pancreatic cancer.
  • Overall, 7 in 10 respondents globally know someone who has had one of the cancer types mentioned, including 11% who know someone who has had pancreatic cancer. Respondents in France are least likely to say that a loved one has had any of the cancers that were listed, including pancreatic cancer.

Involvement in Public Awareness

  • When it comes to who should be involved in increasing public awareness about cancer, respondents in all countries believe that medical researchers/scientists should take the lead in this effort (70%), followed closely by medical societies (60%) and non-profit cancer organizations (58%).
  • The majority of respondents in the US – more so than in Europe – are more likely to believe that almost all groups (medical researchers, non-profit cancer organizations, medical societies, patient advocacy groups, and companies making cancer treatments) except government should play a leading or significant role. In contrast, European respondents are more likely to say that government should play a sizeable role.
  • Half of all respondents globally would take action to support public awareness of pancreatic cancer, including majorities in the US, Italy, and Spain.

About Pancreatic Cancer

Currently, there are no early screening or detection methods, and early symptoms can be similar to those of many other diseases. This means that pancreatic cancer is not usually diagnosed until it is at an advanced stage. For this reason, most patients have a poor prognosis, with more than one-half of patients diagnosed after their cancer has metastasized (spread to other organs).

While the incidence and death rates for cancer as a whole are declining, those for pancreatic cancer are on the rise. More than 100,000 people in Europe currently have a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. In 2014, it is estimated more than 46,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and nearly 40,000 people will die of the disease. Currently, only about 26 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer survive for one year following diagnosis. For patients who are not diagnosed until after the cancer has already spread (metastasized), the outlook is even bleaker- the average survival time is only three months. Unfortunately, this is the case for more than half of patients with pancreatic cancer.

About the Survey

The Global Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Omnibus Survey assessed perceptions about the seriousness of cancer relative to other diseases and focused, in particular, on level of awareness and understanding about pancreatic cancer. The survey was sponsored by Celgene and conducted by Ipsos’ online omnibus among 2014 adults age 18+ in the United States between January 31 and February 4, 2014 and roughly 1000 adults between February 4-18, 2014, age 16+ in each of the following European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and to ensure sample composition reflects that of each country’s population of adults according to census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

About Celgene

Celgene Corporation, headquartered in Summit, New Jersey, is an integrated global biopharmaceutical company engaged primarily in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases through gene and protein regulation. For more information please visit www.celgene.com. Follow us on Twitter @Celgene as well.

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