The number of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is set to soar by a third to 12,000 a year by 2030 (1), according to a new analysis released by Pancreatic Cancer UK today (Monday 22nd February). The charity is warning that if survival rates stay the same (2), just 600 of those patients (five per cent) will live for five years or more (3), as it unveils its ambitious strategy to “declare war” on the deadly disease.
Pancreatic Cancer UK has found that if the disease’s shocking survival rates, which have barely improved for 40 years, do not increase then the number of people dying of pancreatic cancer every year will also rise from 8,700 to 11,700 by 2030 (4). In the last decade alone, unlike most cancers which have seen a decrease in the number of deaths, the number of people dying of pancreatic cancer has increased by eight per cent (5).
Largely due to late diagnosis, just a 10th of pancreatic cancer patients currently receive surgery, which is the only potential curative treatment for pancreatic cancer (6). Yet, just 1.4 per cent of UK cancer research spend is dedicated to the disease (7).
Pancreatic Cancer UK has today committed to investing £10 million in research over the next five years as part of its new strategy ‘Taking it on together’. The charity will transform the future for people with pancreatic cancer and their families by bringing together supporters, researchers, policy-makers, the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry to achieve the shared goal of doubling the number of patients living for five years or more to 10 per cent.
As it delivers ‘Taking it on together’, the charity will fund research to increase the number of people diagnosed earlier, as well as research to tackle the fact there are worryingly few treatments for the disease. Scientists funded by the charity will investigate improving current treatments and discovering new ones.
Pancreatic Cancer UK, which marks its 10th anniversary this year, is also calling on major research funders to dedicate far more funding to pancreatic cancer, to allow the breakthroughs that are desperately needed for patients. Pancreatic Cancer UK is also urging the NHS and the government to work with the charity to vastly improve standards of treatment and care (8) and ensure treatments are available to patients on the NHS all across the UK.
Alex Ford, Chief Executive at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “Today we declare war on a disease which has morphed into a terrible enemy, having been left untargeted for so long. The number of people diagnosed is set to soar by a third in less than 15 years but unlike most cancers, the number of people dying of the disease is rising. This is due to a triple whammy of neglect; significant lack of research and treatments, and unacceptably late diagnosis. This has to end.
“We will work tirelessly to ensure more people are diagnosed earlier, and have access to more and better treatments and care. But to truly conquer this disease we need more weapons in our arsenal. We must take it on together, so we are urging the public, health professionals, researchers and MPs to join our quest. Together we can achieve the shared goal of ensuring people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live for as long as they can, as well as they can.”
Steve Pereira, Professor of Hepatology and Gastroenterology at University College London and member of Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Medical Advisory Board, said: “It really is essential that research funders plough far more funds into pancreatic cancer research to help us battle this appalling disease. If we do not take urgent action these new estimates that by 2030, 3,000 more people each year will lose their lives to pancreatic cancer, will become a reality. We can’t let that happen.”
Pancreatic Cancer UK ambassador Suggs, who tragically lost his sister in law Alanah to pancreatic cancer, is supporting ‘Taking it on together’. Suggs said: “Being told Alanah had pancreatic cancer came as a huge shock, but to lose her just a couple of months afterwards was absolutely devastating for our incredibly close family. No family should go through that, and it’s horrifying to think the numbers of families being forced to do so will increase by so much if we don’t do something. That’s why I’ll be supporting Pancreatic Cancer UK 100 per cent as it leads the way in throwing everything we’ve got at this horrible disease.”
In ‘Taking it on together’ the charity also commits to:
- Invest £5 million over 5 years in new and improved support and information for anyone affected by pancreatic cancer
- Campaign for a game changing annual UK pancreatic cancer research total of £25 million by 2021
- Define a gold standard of care for everyone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and work tirelessly with others to make that standard a reality for all patients