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Pancreatic Cancer UK launch Campaign For Hope

Posted by: Policy and campaigning 7 September 2011

Outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients in the UK fall well below acceptable levels according to Pancreatic Cancer UK's Study for Survival.  The Study is the UK's first comprehensive review of pancreatic cancer, and draws on the experience of over 1,000 people living and working with the disease.

The Study for Survival report, which has been published today, highlights that five year survival rates are amongst the worst in the world for UK pancreatic cancer patients.  This is compared to patients living in other EU countries as well as the US, Australia and Canada. In some instances, like Canada and Australia, differences in reported survival rates are double those of the UK.

The Study publishes data that points towide variation in survival rates at cancer network levelacross England. This includes the numbers of patients referred for specialist treatment and receiving life saving surgery. It suggests that despite the fact that 20% of patients are potentially eligible for life-saving surgery, in reality only 10% of patients are treated in this way. Furthermore, the Study reports thatpancreatic cancer patients have the least satisfactory health service experience of all patients diagnosed with major cancers.  

The Study also found thatover 50% of patients are experiencing symptoms up to 12 months prior to diagnosis.  This often involves five or more visits to their GPand suggests the needs for a far greater focus on early diagnosis, particularly how GPs can be provided with the symptoms information and diagnostic/risk assessment tools they need.

The report concludes that there is anurgent requirement to address the many shortcomings in the pancreatic cancer patient experience. This includes a range of actions, including an immediate call to increase UK focus and investment in pancreatic cancer research.

Professor Sir Mike Richards CBE National Clinical Director for Cancer and End of Life Care, comments on the outcome of the Study for Survival:"Pancreatic Cancer UK's Study for Survival has shown we clearly have a long way to go before we can say with confidence that everyone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer has access to the best possible treatment and care available. This includes access to expert input from multidisciplinary teams located at specialist pancreatic cancer centres and one to one support from Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs).

Pancreatic cancer is a challenging cancer - but we need to take this information and the opportunity it presents to improve survival and quality of life for everyone. Pancreatic cancer must not be written off as a hopeless cause."   

Alex Ford, Pancreatic Cancer UK's Chief Executive, comments: "For the first time, Pancreatic Cancer UK's Study for Survival provides vital evidence about what is required to improve the appalling situation for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK.  Our ambitionmustbe to give everyone the best possible to survive this disease and improve quality of life for pancreatic cancer patients.

By launching the Campaign for Hope, Pancreatic Cancer UK is setting an ambitious goal to double survival rates for UK pancreatic cancer patients within five years - helping to save up to 250 lives a year."