No Time to Wait
We must not let the pandemic push people with pancreatic cancer to the back of the queue
Pancreatic cancer was already an emergency before the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the deadliest common cancer, with more than half of people dying within 3 months.
Surgery is the only potential cure for pancreatic cancer. Even short delays between diagnosis and treatment can lower the chances of survival.
But due to the impact of the pandemic on health services, we are seeing multiple delays and cancellations to pancreatic cancer treatment and surgery, across the UK.
Just a three-month delay to pancreatic cancer surgery can reduce someone’s 5-year survival chances by up to 17%. And because of the pandemic, in some places, delays of this length have been happening.
We are now facing a cancer emergency like no other.
Join us to ask NHS decision makers to make people with pancreatic cancer a priority by adding your name in the link below.
Bryony and her young family were devastated when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She considered herself extremely lucky when she was told her cancer was operable. But then the pandemic broke and the pressure put on the NHS threatened to take away the small chance of survival she had.
"I was so very lucky to live in Bristol where once the outbreak happened, they were able to think creatively and bring the cancer treatment to the dental hospital. I know not everybody had that opportunity and now many are living in areas where they face life-threatening delays."
Let’s give people with the quickest killing cancer a chance to survive.
With your support, we can continue to work with the NHS to make sure the voices of people with pancreatic cancer are heard. We’re clear on what must be done.
Local NHS services across the UK must take the following urgent action to give everyone with pancreatic cancer the best chance of survival:
The pandemic has meant disruption and delays for many people with pancreatic cancer. Services need to be restored urgently as these people cannot afford to wait. We need to see clear plans across the UK for how this will be done, with due attention paid to less survivable cancers like pancreatic cancer where treatment is urgent due to the speed of progression.
Many people with pancreatic cancer have had their surgery, diagnosis or other treatment delayed or cancelled during the pandemic, leading to backlogs as long as 5-6 weeks in some areas. Cancer Alliances and Health Boards across the UK must work with specialist centres to ensure that people can access diagnosis and treatment quickly by developing capacity and solutions to clear the backlog. This capacity must also ensure those who face a new diagnosis in the coming months are able to access timely, effective treatment and care.
People with pancreatic cancer must be kept informed about what impact the pandemic has on their treatment, and be actively involved in decisions made about their care. In addition to treatment and support from the NHS or other services, people must be signposted to support for symptom management and psychological support, such as Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Support Line.
Service pressures and risk of transmission during the pandemic have necessitated more care being delivered remotely. For some people this has worked effectively, but for others, telemedicine has not been accessible or met their care needs. Services must take this opportunity to ensure that learnings are taken from the pandemic. Positive new initiatives that improve outcomes and experience should be absorbed into routine practice, whilst also ensuring an equal standard of care across the country.
We are calling for local NHS services across the UK to set out how they will meet these four commitments. People with pancreatic cancer cannot be neglected at this crucial moment.