We held another successful summit on Wednesday 15 February, which this year focused on ‘Inspiring Innovation’. The day brought together researchers, health professionals and people affected by the disease to hear about the progress being made in diagnosis, treatment and research.
To coincide with our Annual Summit, we also launched our new research strategy – ‘Taking on research to change the future’ – and released new statistics which show that by 2026 pancreatic cancer will become the fourth biggest cancer killer in the UK. Our new research strategy sets out how we plan to work with world-leading researchers and people affected by the disease over the next five years to improve survival rates.
Innovations in diagnosis and care
The day kicked off with a series of presentations about exciting initiatives that could lead to an earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in the future and speed up treatment for those just diagnosed including:
- Chris Harrison, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, spoke about the cancer strategy which seeks to improve cancer care and survival. One key recommendation is that everyone should either get a definite diagnosis of cancer – or have cancer ruled out – within 28 days of being referred by their GP. This is currently being tested in five sites across the UK.
- Mr Keith Roberts, Consultant Hepatobiliary and PancreaticSurgeon, talked about a programme that he is running at University Hospitals Birmingham to fast track people to surgery. The programme reduced the average time from having a CT scan to surgery from two months to 16 days.The programme found that speeding up the time to surgery improved patient experience.
Macmillan joined us on the day to talk about our ‘10 Top Tips project’ to raise awareness of key pancreatic cancer symptoms, which we’ve been developing in partnership and should be available later this year. Two leaflets are being produced, one for the public and another for GPs, which aim to help increase knowledge of pancreatic cancer, its symptoms and aid rreferral for further investigations.
The summit also covered new advancements that could be game-changing in the treatment of pancreatic cancer – in particular personalised medicine. Personalised medicine involves looking at the genetics of pancreatic cancer tissue to help identify and predict which treatments will work best for each individual.
Dr Malcolm Moore, President of the BC Cancer Agency in Canada presented the findings of a recent study into personalised medicine. The study is currently looking at the genetics of pancreatic cancers, collecting data as people go through treatment and building up a database of this knowledge. We then heard from Professor Andrew Biankin, Director of Translational Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, who talked about a similar project currently being set up in the UK.
Transforming the research landscape
Throughout the day, the entries for our poster competition, which looked at innovations in pancreatic cancer diagnosis, treatment or care, were displayed in the main auditorium. In the final session, the winner, Pilar Acedo-Nunez, Research Associate at University College London, spoke about her project which looked at injecting a light-sensitive chemical to destroy tumours. Pilar’s project is still in its early stages but the findings look promising and could potentially be combined with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Anna Jewell, Director of Operations at Pancreatic Cancer UK, also spoke at the Summit, highlighting the need for an increase in research funding for pancreatic cancer. Anna explained that an average of six times more is spent on researching each of the four current biggest cancer killers, compared to pancreatic cancer. We shared our new research strategy video and Anna explained how we aim to address the issue of pancreatic cancer research funding.
Speaking after the summit, Alex Ford, CEO at Pancreatic Cancer UK, said:
‘It was fantastic to see so many different people from the pancreatic cancer community at the summit this year. Patients, carers, clinicians, nurses, funders, policy–makers, researchers – there was such a positive buzz from everyone, and a real sense of excitement that things can, and will, change if we all take this disease on together.’