Last week the Wellcome Collection in London played host to Pancreatic Cancer UK's Early Diagnosis Summit: a day of quick fire presentations and workshops for medical professionals including GPs, gastroenterologists, oncologists, surgeons, medical directors and nurses.
Opened with speeches by Summit Chair and Emeritus Professor Robert Haward and Dr Trace Allen (the Chair of Trustees at Pancreatic Cancer UK, pictured below), the Summit was a fantastic day of interesting presentations and debate. Several heads in the room nodded along with Pancreatic Cancer UK Voice Lynn Walker as she described her experience from first GP visit to diagnosis: telling of several visits, vague symptoms and a fight to find out the real facts about her illness, it was a story that resonated with many.
Minister of State for Care Services Paul Burstow gave the keynote address, assuring the room that early diagnosis was a priority for the Government, indeed, a 'central part' of the Government's strategy to increase cancer survival rates. Additionally, the Government is working to improve access to radiotherapy and screening, with £450mil of a potential £750mil being 'set aside' for a future awareness campaign covering several lesser-discussed cancers, such as pancreatic cancer that the Government hope to run. Not only this, but Paul Burstow pledged that they would ensure patient access to psychological therapies for all patients by 2014/15.
The round of quick-fire presentations given by experts in the field inspired a rapid discussion of the issues around early diagnosis that GPs and health professionals face. Topics under discussion included:
- Developing symptoms-based algorithms to aid GP diagnosis
- The difference early diagnosis would make for increased survival rates (with 67% of GPs surveyed by the charity believing it is very important and would make a vast difference for many patients)
- The need to tackle GPs lack of confidence in spotting pancreatic cancer earlier and finding ways to help them
- The need to decrease the number of visits to GP before a diagnosis is made
- The necessity of encouraging those who don't see their GP early enough to visit as soon as symptoms present themselves
Thank you to all who attended, and a special thanks to our fantastic speakers and facilitators:
Emeritus Professor Robert Haward (Summit Chair), Dr Trace Allen, Ms Lynn Walker, Paul Burstow MP, Dr Nick Carroll (Consultant Radiologist and Endoscopist, Addenbrooke's Hospital NHS Trust Cambridge), Mr Oswin Baker (Rockpool Research Associates), Mr Chris Carrigan (Head of NCIN), Dr Stephen Pereira (Consultant Gastroenterologist/Hepatologist, UCLH & RFH London), Dr Lindsay Forbes (Clinical Senior Lecturer in Health Services Research, King's College London), Professor Willie Hamilton (Professor of Primary Care Diagnostics, Peninsular Medical School, Exeter), Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, Professor of General Practice and Epidemiology, University of Nottingham).
To see a few additional images from the Early Diagnosis Summit, head to our Facebook page.