Only 34 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer will receive some kind of surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the treatments most likely to allow them to live for longer or save their lives, a new analysis released by Pancreatic Cancer UK today has found . Patients with all the other common cancers combined are twice as likely (69 per cent) to receive these life-extending or potentially life-saving treatments.
The charity’s analysis has also found that less than ten per cent of people with pancreatic cancer have surgery, compared with almost half (44 per cent) of patients with all common cancers.
Pancreatic Cancer UK is now calling for a step change in the way that people with the disease are diagnosed, treated and cared for, so they have the best chance of living for longer or surviving. The charity wants to ensure that more people with pancreatic cancer receive life-extending or potentially life-saving treatments, and that everyone diagnosed receives the best possible care, wherever they live.
Currently the majority of patients are not receiving the three treatments for a number of reasons, including that 80 per cent are diagnosed at an advanced stage. At this point, the potentially life-saving treatment of surgery is not an option. There are very few life-extending treatments suitable for advanced patients, and access to treatments varies across the UK. Very few clinical trials are conducted for pancreatic cancer– just 4.6 per cent of pancreatic cancer patients are treated as part of a clinical trial (2).
Pancreatic Cancer UK is leading the way towards vital progress in treatment and care by bringing together doctors, nurses, researchers, MPs and patients and families at its annual summit, ‘Inspiring Change in Care’ in London today. The charity will showcase innovative pancreatic cancer care from around the UK, and call for improvements in care and treatment for patients, as part of its new campaign Promoting Innovative Practice.
Diana Jupp, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “Having a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is devastating for all patients, but seven in ten are then completely shattered by the news that there is no way of treating their cancer. All they are offered is some relief for their symptoms, and they face an awful prognosis. We must now bring about a new dawn for people affected by the disease. More patients must receive treatment which will give them the best chance of living for longer, or surviving – and everyone diagnosed must receive the best possible treatment and care for them.
“To achieve this step change for people affected, we need patients to be diagnosed earlier and more treatment options for those who are diagnosed. The recently published National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the management of the disease must be followed, to ensure variations in treatment and care are a thing of the past. We need research funders to invest in pancreatic cancer to bring about more clinical trials. Everyone affected by pancreatic cancer deserves this progress, and we must bring about this vital change together.”
TV and radio presenter and Pancreatic Cancer UK supporter Nicholas Owen lost his father to pancreatic cancer. Nicholas will lead a discussion at the charity’s summit today which will identify what needs to happen to transform care and treatment. Nicholas Owen said: “Having lost my father to pancreatic cancer, I know only too well how much change is needed for all of us affected by this disease. My father died in 1981 and since then, there have been very few new treatments introduced and precious little progress in the way that people with the disease are cared for. That must urgently change, and I am very proud to be a part of a movement paving the way towards that.”
23-year-old Abi Tilley, from Sleaford in Lincolnshire, lost her mother Anne, 56, to pancreatic cancer in October 2016. By the time she was diagnosed, Anne’s cancer had spread to her liver and spine and was too far advanced for treatment to be possible. Anne died just six weeks after she was diagnosed.
Abi said: “To be told at the age of 22 that there is nothing that can be done to help your best friend is truly heart-breaking. Our experience with pancreatic cancer was just so terrible, but sadly every day another family has to experience what we went through. This really needs to change. After we had come to terms with the news that there were no treatment options for mum, we just lived every day as it came and made the most of the precious time we had left together. To this day, I wish mum’s diagnosis had come at a time when treatment options were available to her, because it could have given us more time.”
People with pancreatic cancer who do not receive surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy will often receive treatment and support to make them as comfortable as possible and improve their quality of life, such as managing pain or dietary symptoms.
80 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer will not survive beyond a year.
People are being urged to share their ideas of how care and treatment for people with pancreatic cancer need to change, using #ChangeTogether.
If you or a loved one is affected by pancreatic cancer and would like to speak to a Specialist Nurse call 0808 801 0707 or email firstname.lastname@example.org