"There is nothing more devastating than a diagnosis of cancer when it is too advanced to do anything, and sadly this is often the experience of pancreatic cancer patients" - Clara Mackay, Charity Director
If you've ever been affected by pancreatic cancer, either as a carer or as a patient, you'll undoubtedly know the issues surrounding diagnosis. Whether it's, as Pancreatic Cancer UK's Chair of Trustees Trace Allen, pointed out at the latest meeting for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on pancreatic cancer, feeling lucky that it was caught in time, or the frustration of regular misdiagnosis. Either way early diagnosis is a serious problem when it comes to pancreatic cancer.
Currently, 50% of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed as a result of an emergency admission. In fact, if you have pancreatic cancer you're twice as likely to be diagnosed via this route than a patient with any other cancer: a staggering statistic. Coupled with the fact 50% of pancreatic cancer patients are significantly less likely to survive one year past diagnosis, it is clear that much more needs to be done.
Jennifer Benjamin of the Department of Health attended the meeting and spoke about the forthcoming Government campaign to help diagnose cancers with more generic symptoms, of which pancreatic cancer is one. As a charity, we welcome the initiative, which is a real opportunity to make headway into the issue of earlier diagnosis.
This APPG meeting showed real progress in some areas and it's incredibly pleasing to hear of work that is being done to give GPs the relevant risk assessment tools, but much more is needed. Investment in research and ensuring GPs have the clear pathways for referring patients into secondary care are two key ways of improving survival rates for pancreatic cancer.
And there is still more research needed in relation to the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and how and when patients present. But for now, we would like to thank all Parliamentarians, medical practitioners and Voices who attended, and everyone who picked up the phone or sent an email on the Day of Action to invite their local MPs to attend.