Celebrity voices from beyond the grave deliver stark cancer warning

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Watch: Video uses voices of celebrities who died of pancreatic cancer to raise awareness

A video featuring the voices of late celebrities who lost their lives to pancreatic cancer has been released to raise awareness of the impact of the illness. 

The four-minute film, titled Lost Voices: Help us break through the silence has been launched by Pancreatic Cancer UK, and features Alan Rickman, Patrick Swayze, Aretha Franklin and Sir John Hurt.

The video has been created as part of a drive to encourage donations to help vital research breakthroughs into what is the deadliest form of common cancer, with more than half of those diagnosed dying within three months.

An appeal from Pancreatic Cancer UK about how difficult the illness is to diagnose has been paired with snippets from the stars' shows and interviews alongside an accompanying animation to boost awareness of the disease.

The voices of the late Patrick Swayze, Alan Rickman and Sir John Hurt have all been used in a pancreatic cancer awareness video. (Getty Images)
The voices of the late Patrick Swayze, Alan Rickman and Sir John Hurt have all been used in a pancreatic cancer awareness video. (Getty Images)

As well as those who died from pancreatic cancer, it features other famous faces, including Ruby Wax and Olivia Williams, who have also been personally impacted by the disease.

Actress Olivia Williams said: “When I was asked to be ambassador for Pancreatic Cancer UK I was worried that I wasn’t famous enough to raise significant amounts of money.

“It became clear that all the really famous sufferers were dead.

“This fact devastated me, as I looked down the list of great singers, actors and scientists who had been lost too early, and too quickly.”

Read more: What to do if you think you've spotted a sign or symptom of cancer

Other famous voices, such as former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, can also be heard in the video via an accompanying audio piece.

"I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable," Jobs says.

The video has been released to mark Pancreatic Awareness Month with the charity explaining that despite the number of high-profile deaths, little is known about the disease.

A recent survey of 2,000 people across the UK, conducted by ComRes, found that only 8% of the public knew the most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

In addition, symptoms including back pain, indigestion and weight loss are also symptoms of many other conditions, and there is no simple test to help doctors diagnose it.

Pancreatic Cancer UK said this leads many people to be diagnosed too late to receive lifesaving treatment.

Watch: Alex Trebek marks World Pancreatic Cancer Day in video recorded before his death

Rima Horton, a trustee of the charity and the wife of the late Alan Rickman, who died in 2016, commented on seeing "barely any improvement" in prognosis rates for the disease in four decades.

She said: "It's hard to put into words just how truly horrific pancreatic cancer is and I think that's a significant part of why it's been neglected - why in 40 years we're seen barely any improvement in someone's chances of survival."

She went on to celebrate "the sheer creativity" of the new awareness raising campaign and how her late husband would have agreed with her.

Horton continued: "The sheer creativity at the heart of 'Lost Voices' would have excited Alan, and I'm so pleased that he is part of it. 

"The message he and the other wonderfully talented individuals we've lost to pancreatic cancer have for the public is urgent. 

"Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest common cancer, but finding a cure isn't a lost cause. With more research I know that a breakthrough will be made that will help save thousands of lives."

Read more: Woman discovers 'weird' line on fingernail was actually a sign of cancer

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. (Getty Images)
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. (Getty Images)

What are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

According to Pancreatic Cancer UK, pancreatic cancer often does not cause any symptoms in its early stages, which also makes it hard to diagnose.

Any warning signs that do develop tend to be vague, and come and go.

They could also be confused for more common conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

Nonetheless, look out for abdominal pain that spreads to the back. This may present as tenderness or just general discomfort.

Unexplained weight loss or continuously not feeling hungry should also raise alarm bells.

Patients may also notice a difference to their bowel habits, including diarrhoea, constipation or pale faeces that float.

Read more: Selfies could be used to diagnose cancer

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often difficult to spot. (Getty Images)
The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often difficult to spot. (Getty Images)

There are also some less common symptoms of pancreatic cancer. These include having a fever and shivering, and generally feeling unwell or not quite right. 

Some people also feel they can’t swallow their food properly, as pancreatic cancer can make you feel full quickly when you are eating.

Indigestion, nausea, vomiting and difficulty swallowing can also occur, due to the pancreas’ role in digesting food.

Jaundice - itchy skin, and yellowing of the skin and eyes - is another symptom to look out for.

Jaundice is a medical emergency, with patients being required to go to A&E immediately.

For all the other symptoms, see your GP if they do not ease after four weeks.

If your symptoms worsen - or new ones appear - after you have been discharged, see your GP again.

By 2026, pancreatic cancer is expected to become the fourth biggest cancer killer, but research has been critically underfunded for decades.

To donate, visit pancreaticcancer.org.uk/researchbreakthroughs

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