A TORFAEN grandmother is urging Gwent residents to sign a petition calling on the government to increase funding into pancreatic cancer.

Linda Reardon, from Llantarnam, lost mum Lynn Ball to pancreatic cancer in March 2010 after a seven-week battle, and cousin Noel Young to the disease in 2004, just 12 days after diagnosis.

Pancreatic cancer survival rates have not changed since the 1970s, and it is now the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK, yet it receives relatively low research funds compared to other cancers.

The pancreas is situated below the rib cage, between the liver and the gall bladder, generating insulin and helping to break down bile.

Symptoms can be similar to that of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and patients who do not experience any pain may leave it too late before going to their GP, said Mrs Reardon, 56.

“With breast or testicular cancer, if you find a lump you go to your GP,” she said.

“If you have a recurring stomach problem, have lost a lot of weight or have been diagnosed with diabetes in the last three to four years, insist on a CT scan or ultrasound,” said Mrs Reardon, who lives with husband Scott and has three daughters and three grandchildren.

Mrs Reardon has set up a support group, Families in Support of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness, on Facebook and said one of its 700 members recently died of the disease, aged just 24.

The petition, set up by fellow support group member Maggie Watts, needs 100,000 signatures by April 8 in order to be debated in Parliament.

The Department for Health responded to the petition, saying the National Institute for Health Research welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, which are then subject to peer review and judged on “the importance of the topic to patients and the NHS, value for money and scientific quality”.

To sign the petition visit bit.ly/1a0y455