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Pancreatic cancer adverts cleared

Adverts for a pancreatic cancer charity that featured sufferers saying they would rather have a different form of the disease have been cleared following 121 complaints.

The three press ads for Pancreatic Cancer Action stated: "Today, 23 people will be told they have pancreatic cancer...Only 3% will survive because of late diagnosis. Most will die within four to six months. It's the UK's fifth biggest cancer killer. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all 22 common cancers. Early diagnosis saves lives."

Each ad featured an image of a cancer patient and a statement in speech marks saying they wished they had either breast, testicular or cervical cancer instead.

The complainants, some of whom were cancer patients or knew someone who had suffered from cancer, objected that the references to other types of cancer implied that these were not serious or difficult to deal with, believing that this was offensive and distressing.

Pancreatic Cancer Action said the aim of the campaign was to give the public an insight into how it felt to be diagnosed with a disease that "leaves you with no hope".

The charity said that while no one would want to have cancer, the wish to have another type of the disease with a higher survival rate was common in pancreatic cancer patients and their families.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) noted that the headline claims in the ads that seemed to compare different types of cancer were likely to be shocking and could potentially be upsetting, particularly for people who had experience of those types of cancer.

But it said: "We understood that the quotations reflected the genuine views of people who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and noted that the text directly below the headline claims clarified what was meant by those claims.

"This text made clear that due to low early diagnosis and a lack of awareness of the symptoms of the disease, pancreatic cancer had the lowest survival rate of all common cancers and therefore the chances of survival with any other type of cancer were likely to be greater.

"We considered that this put the quotes referring to other types of cancer into context and that, when considered as a whole, the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or unjustifiable distress, and therefore the ads did not breach the Code."

It ruled that no further action was necessary.

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