Four out of five people with pancreatic cancer will die within a year of diagnosis, usually because the disease is detected so late, Pancreatic Cancer UK said in announcing Study for Survival, an initiative to survey patients and doctors for opinions on improving the situation.
Alex Ford, the group's chief executive, said the biology of pancreatic cancer made it a "challenging disease," The Daily Telegraph reported.
Because the cancer often surrounds crucial arteries in the body, only one in 10 patients can be treated surgically, she said.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in Britain, claiming 7,800 victims a year.
"It is very much an underfunded and rather forgotten disease," Ford said.
Professor Mike Richards, the U.K. national clinical cancer director, voiced his support for the Study for Survival project.
"Too often pancreatic is viewed as a hopeless cause," he said.
Actor Patrick Swayze, known for his roles in "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost," died of the disease in 2009 at the age of 57, 19 months after being diagnosed.