Oakwood Solicitors

Pancreatic Cancer

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What Is Pancreatic Cancer?

The pancreas is used for the digestion of food and the endocrine system. It is a gland that secretes hormones into the blood, helping with the breakdown of food and absorption of nutrients.

The pancreas is located behind the stomach and is connected to the first part of the intestine.

Pancreatic cancer is also called adenocarcinoma. It starts in the section that makes the digestive hormones.


  • It is rare. However, it is one of the most deadly.
  • It is the fifth most common cause of death in the UK.
  • There are 9921 cases per year and 9263 deaths.
  • The survival rate for over 10 years is 1%. This is due to the fact that no symptoms are present and as the cancer is so aggressive there is no way of slowing down the progress.
  • It tends to occur in people over the age of 75.

pancreatic cancer


What Are The Symptoms?

In the early stage of the disease there are no symptoms. As the cancer progresses some symptoms may appear:

  • Jaundice.
  • Abdominal or back pain.
  • Weight loss.
  • Dark urine.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diabetes.
  • Light coloured stools.

What Can Cause it?

There are a few risk factors that have been identified as to the cause:

  • Smoking – 25-33% of all cases are linked to smoking.
  • Age – It occurs to people over the age of 70.
  • Overweight.
  • Genetics – If you have a relative who has suffered from pancreatic cancer then there is an increased risk.
  • History of diabetes, pancreatitis or stomach ulcers.




If any symptoms are noticed, you need to be seen by a GP.

The GP will have a feel to see if any lumps or enlargements of the organs. They may also check for signs of jaundice. A blood test will also be taken if there is any endocrine function.

If there any worrying signs, you will be referred to a specialist at the hospital. Further tests will be done, such as:

  • Ultrasound.
  • CT Scans.
  • MRI Scans.
  • PET Scans.
  • Endoscopy – A tube with a camera is interested through the mouth.
  • Laparoscopy – A camera is inserted through to the pancreas. A biopsy will be taken to identify the cells.


Pancreatic cancer is very difficult to treat. The cancer usually remains undetected until it is too late and in the advanced disease stages. The pancreas is also hidden behind and around other important organs, so treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy do not penetrate it as effectively and can damage the surrounding organs.

As pancreatic cancer is mainly diagnosed in people over the age of 70 and the prognosis is usually not very promising, undergoing extensive treatment may not be a sensible option. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy may cause more trouble than it is worth in some cases, and this will be taken into consideration and perhaps end-of-life care may be suggested instead.

Surgery is the only way to completely cure pancreatic cancer, but this only works if the cancer has not spread. This kind of surgery is long, complex and has a slow recovery time and so is only offered to young and fit patients – most times the risk of surgery outweighs the benefits. There are three types of surgical procedure:

  • Whipple Procedure – This is the most common type and removes the head of the pancreas, but also must remove the first part of the small intestine, gallbladder, part of the bile duct and the sometimes part of the stomach. The surgeon reconnects the remaining parts, but patients may have to take drugs to help them digest food.
  • Distal Pancreatectomy – This procedure removes the tail and body of the pancreas. The spleen, part of the stomach, intestine, left adrenal gland, left kidney and left part of the diaphragm may also have to be removed.
  • Total Pancreatectomy – This removes the entire pancreas. The surgeon will also have to take out the bile duct, gallbladder, spleen, part of the small intestine, part of the stomach and the surrounding lymph nodes. After this procedure you will need to take supplements to help digest your food. You will be diabetic as the pancreas will no longer be able to control blood sugar levels, and the removal of the spleen will affect the blood’s ability to clot and increase the risk of infections.

These surgeries are very invasive and can cause a lot of issues afterwards. Some surgeries are offered that can help ease the symptoms that are not as invasive, but will not cure the cancer.

If the cancer cannot be operated on because it has spread, then chemotherapy or radiotherapy can be used to try and shrink the tumours and relieve symptoms. These treatments can also be given prior to surgery to help shrink the tumour or post-surgery to ensure no cancer remains.

These treatments are usually given in conjunction to maximise their effectiveness. Despite the fact these treatments have improved and do not require much hospital stay, they still cause the stereotypical cancer treatment symptoms such as hair loss, nausea/vomiting and weight loss.

Once again, these medications can cause a lot of damage to the body, and like surgery, sometimes the risk outweighs the benefits. Your treatment plan is something that will be discussed at length by you and the health care professionals.

How Do I Make a Claim?

If you feel that you have been affected as a result of late diagnosis or incorrect or inappropriate treatment, then you may be entitled to bring about a claim for compensation.

The team at Oakwood Solicitors will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

Who Can Bring About A Claim?

The patient who has been affected may be able to bring about a claim. However, it can also sadly be the case that the patient has passed as a result of the disease.   In such instances, the executor of the estate or the next of kin/dependents may be able to bring about a claim.

Our specialist team will be able to discuss whether you have a right to bring about a claim, so if you or a loved one has been affected do not hesitate to contact us.



How Long Will My Case Take To Run?

Given the complexities involved in pursuing Clinical Negligence claims, they can often take 18-24 months to conclude and longer if Court proceedings have to be issued.

Our investigations start by obtaining all relevant records and protocols before approaching independent medical experts for their opinion. We will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

How Much Is My Claim Worth?

It is often difficult to value clinical negligence claims at their outset given the complexities involved however we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

  • General damages – This is an award of money for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.
  • Special damages – This is an award of money for all of your out of pocket expenses such as travel expenses, medication costs, loss of earnings, treatment costs both past and future. This list is not exhaustive and is very case specific.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd


Why Use Oakwood Solicitors To Make Your Clinical Negligence Case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly-trained to deal with all aspects of Clinical Negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon, medical terms they don’t understand, and to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

How Is My Case Funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘no-win, no fee’ agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost.

If you are successful in your claim, a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations. If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained, the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point.

The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites

Pancreatic Cancer Action

Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

Pancreatic Cancer UK


If you have experienced a pancreatic cancer misdiagnosis, get in touch today for a free initial consultation in complete confidence. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Meet the Head of Department

Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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