The pancreas - something to do with bile maybe? Or is that the appendix? Does it help with blood cleaning? Or… No. No idea.
Because while most of us have heard of the pancreas, not that many would be able to answer exactly where it is, what it does or why we need it or.
So firstly, to clear up that up: the pancreas is high in the abdomen, behind the stomach, where the ribs meet at the bottom of the breastbone; it produces the pancreatic digestive juices and insulin; which (respectively) are vital for digestion and for the body’s breakdown of sugar and keeping blood sugar levels stable.
But that’s not where our knowledge should stop; with World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day on November 16th, here's everything you need to know about it.
How common is pancreatic cancer?
We need to know that 8,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year.
We need to know that only around 4% of pancreatic cancer patients survive the disease for five years or more. And we need to know that around 9,000 people in the UK die from pancreatic cancer every year.
Earlier this year, This Morning's agony aunt Denise Robertson lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.
What causes pancreatic cancer?
“More than 1 in 4 pancreatic cancers in the UK are caused by smoking,” explains Ford. “People with type I or II diabetes have roughly twice the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) is also associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
“Being overweight or obese increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, with around 1,000 cases in the UK each year linked to excess bodyweight. Eating processed meat may increase risk of pancreatic cancer, too.
“People with a family history of pancreatic cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease.”
How can I lower the risk of pancreatic cancer?
“Tobacco smoking is the only established risk factor for pancreatic cancer,” explains Ford, “so you can lower your risk by not smoking, as well as keeping to a healthy weight.”