The charity Pancreatic Cancer Action (PCA) said in a statement: “We were very sad to hear that one of Britain’s most popular actors, Alan Rickman, passed away after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
”Our thoughts are with all his friends and family at this very sad time."
A source quoted by Showbiz 411 claimed Rickman may have suffered a small stroke in August, leading doctors to make their diagnosis shortly after.
Rickman only disclosed his illness to his friends and family. It apparently did little to hold him back and the stage and film giant was busy helping students raise money for the refugee crisis in December. Neighbours were equally shocked by his passing, describing him smiling and "looking well" only weeks before his death.
A representative for Rickman told The Independent it would not be commenting any further.
Tumours in the pancreas do not usually produce any symptoms in the early stages and those that do appear are often associated with common illnesses, making cancer difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms include lower back or stomach pain, which gets worse after eating or lying down, weight loss and jaundice.
NHS figures show around 8,800 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year.
A spokesperson for PCA told The Independent: “Pancreatic cancer is sometimes called a ‘silent cancer” because the early symptoms are often vague and unrecognised.
“Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and Pavarotti all died of pancreatic cancer. Sir John Hurt is currently the only famous survivor of the disease. Pancreatic cancer receives just one per cent of research funding. Considering it’s the fifth biggest cancer killer, we think this is disgraceful.”
Rickman's death comes just days after the passing of pioneering singer and artist David Bowie. Bowie had suffered from cancer for 18 months and also kept his illness a secret from all but close family. His death at 69 came as a huge shock to his fans globally.