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Largest ever UK pancreatic cancer research investment heralds start of step change in treatment

Posted by: Research 24 March 2017

A donation of £10m into pancreatic cancer research, the largest ever single UK research investment into the disease, is being heralded by Pancreatic Cancer UK as marking the start of a true step change in treatment.

Cancer Research UK has today announced that it will make the ground-breaking investment into the PRECISION Panc project, which ultimately aims to ensure the right patient gets the right treatment at the right time, by recruiting patients more quickly onto the clinical trials that are likely to be most effective for their particular tumour.

The hope is that this approach will lead to hundreds of patients living longer with the disease, which currently has the lowest survival rate of all the 21 most common cancers. With a shocking legacy of neglect in research investment – just 1.4 per cent of the UK cancer research budget per year is dedicated to the disease - pancreatic cancer has seen very little progress in treatments and survival rates since the early 1970s.

Over 600 pancreatic cancer patients across the UK will initially be recruited onto the project. They will have their tumours profiled, which may help doctors determine which treatments or trials are most likely to be effective for them. All patients recruited will also have the opportunity to take part in one of three trials testing new treatment approaches, being led by the PRECISION Panc project. Ultimately, the project’s aim is to create a tailored list of treatments and clinical trials which each individual patient is most likely to respond best to.

The PRECISION Panc project is being led by Professor Andrew Biankin, at the University of Glasgow. Professor Biankin is also a member of Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Anna Jewell, Director of Operations at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: "An investment of this magnitude will mark the start of a true step change in the treatment of the disease. It is tremendously exciting that this research could ultimately lead to patients more quickly receiving the best treatment for them, and taking part in the most suitable clinical trial, giving them the best chance of living for longer. We would urge patients to speak to their specialist about taking part in the initial stage of the research, and seeing if they could be eligible for one of the three trials.

"Pancreatic cancer is a disease which currently has very few treatments, and that’s why it is so important that patients have access to clinical trials to offer them more options now, and to develop much-needed new treatments in the future. We are looking forward to supporting this vital research and raising awareness of the trials. It is only by taking on this tough disease together that we can make the long-overdue progress which will truly transform the future for patients and families."

Last month, Pancreatic Cancer UK warned that the disease will become one of the UK's top four cancer killers by 2026 (1), according to the charity’s new analysis. In less than a decade, the disease will become the UK’s fourth biggest cancer killer, following lung, bowel and prostate cancers. The charity’s analysis also shows the number of people dying from pancreatic cancer will increase by over a quarter (28 per cent) by 2026 (2).


1) Pancreatic Cancer UK analysed existing Cancer Research UK cancer mortality projections and found that by 2026, pancreatic cancer would have the fourth highest number of projected deaths in the UK: http://publications.cancerresearchuk.org/publicationformat/data_tables/projections-mortality-all-data.html

2) Pancreatic Cancer UK analysed existing Cancer Research UK cancer mortality projections and compared the number of deaths in 2014 with the projected number of deaths in 2026, and found that there will be a 28 per cent increase in deaths by 2026.

We need to influence others to increase funding. We are calling for at least £25 million to be spent on research into pancreatic cancer by all funders in the UK every year by 2022. Donate today to change the future now.