Demand Survival Now – the national plan
Our manifesto for pancreatic cancer
There’s no time to waste. Pancreatic cancer has been absent from cancer strategies and plans far too often. That’s why pancreatic cancer survival has barely changed for decades and remains the deadliest common cancer. We call upon the next UK Government and governments around the country to commit to these changes.
Other cancers have benefited from targeted government awareness initiatives, optimal diagnostic and treatment pathways, audits, and directed research strategies. But pancreatic cancer has been left behind. Not only has survival stagnated, the survival gap between pancreatic cancer and other common cancers has doubled over the last 50 years.
Change is possible – here’s how
Lung cancer: a case study
Over the last 20 years, lung cancer has seen a succession of national government and clinical initiatives that have started to transform survival, more than doubling five-year survival from 7% to 16%.
- In 2005, the first National Lung Cancer Audit kick-started the spread of national improvements in England so that the number of surgeries more than doubled from 3,000 in 2005 to over 7,000 in 2016.
- In 2017, the National Optimal Lung Cancer Pathway was published, providing a road map for best care and treatment for people with lung cancer.
- In 2019, the NHS long-term plan set out plans to implement targeted lung cancer screening, as a part of the ambition to diagnose 75% of cancers at an early stage.
A national plan
Successive governments, strategies and plans have consistently missed the opportunity to target the necessary research investment into pancreatic cancer that is required to transform survival.
Now is the time for investment into pancreatic cancer research. A £25 million annual investment into pancreatic cancer would start to change the survival odds and reverse the historic legacy of underfunding. This research investment would signal strategic intent, accelerate high quality early diagnosis and treatment research, and build the infrastructure to establish leadership and collaboration in the pancreatic cancer community. It could also fund early career fellowships to attract and retain the best talent.
Transform treatment and care
For the 10,000 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year there is a lack of consistency in the treatment that they receive and no guarantee they will experience the nationally recommended best standard of care.
There is no assurance they will have access to the fast track pathways or optimal care models that have been shown to improve survival.
The standard of care in the UK is falling behind the rest of Europe, with lower early stage diagnosis, less people receiving surgery and one of the worst survival outcomes – with five-year survival ranking 29th out of 33 countries. More people with pancreatic cancer would survive or survive longer if everyone with pancreatic cancer received the optimal standard of care.
Transform public awareness
Pancreatic cancer has vague and non-specific symptoms, it lacks a simple test for detection and there is poor public awareness of the symptoms. As a result, it remains exceptionally difficult to diagnose at an early stage, making pancreatic cancer almost impossible to treat and survive.
Part of the continued legacy of neglect includes the absence of a national public campaign for pancreatic cancer symptoms, while there have been other national campaigns for lung cancer, bowel cancer, bladder cancer and breast cancer.
A dedicated awareness campaign could enable more people with pancreatic cancer to be identified at an earlier stage where treatment is more likely. This could help to transform the odds of survival.
We urge every government across the UK to produce a national plan to transform survival of pancreatic cancer – a plan that invests in research; transforms care and treatment; and improves public awareness of symptoms.