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'I Wish I Had Breast Cancer': Pancreatic Cancer Campaign Causes Outrage

06/02/2014 11:57 GMT | Updated 06/02/2014 11:59 GMT

A campaign designed to raise awareness around pancreatic cancer has caused outrage, after the adverts show patients longing to have more common types of the disease.

In the TV advert, which was created by Pancreatic Cancer Action, real-life patients say "I wish I had breast cancer" or "I wish I had testicular cancer" as hard-hitting stats highlight the low survival rates associated with pancreatic cancer.

While the campaign does highlight important awareness statistics - pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of just 3% - but it's attempt to play cancer top trumps - survival rates for breast cancer and testicular cancer are much higher, at 85% and 97% respectively - has come under scrutiny.

pancreatic cancer

Since the campaign launched it has been described as "insensitive" and "repugnant" by critics.

Pancreatic Cancer Action have issued a statement on their Facebook page, and the charity's CEO Ali Stunt has defended the campaign (see below).

Pancreatic Cancer Action's founder and CEO Ali Stunt, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007, has defended the campaign.

Speaking to the MailOnline she said: "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 - and would not wish cancer on anyone."

pancreatic cancer action

She continued: "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."

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Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said in a statement: "We strongly dispute any message which suggests that one type of cancer is preferable to another.

"We 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."

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"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."