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Pancreatic Cancer News

St Pancras International becomes ‘St Pancreas’ for one day with impromptu charity flash mob

Pancreatic Cancer Action teamed up with St Pancras International on 11th March 2014 to highlight the mispronunciation of St Pancras and raise awareness of pancreatic cancer, the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer, with an impromptu flash mob.

The performance, carried out by thirty dancers from Living the Dream Dance Company, followed a survey carried out by St Pancras International to find out how commonly people mispronounce common words.  The survey revealed that over 82% of Brits admit to mispronouncing words and place names.


A third of people wrongly say ‘St Pancreas station’.   Wendy Spinks, commercial director of HS1 (owners of St Pancras International) -  said: “We are always hearing people referring to the station as St Pancreas when we walk round and with the rise of social media, more and more people are mixing the two up both in speech and text.

 

The survey found that the words people have the most trouble getting their mouths around are:

  1. Ely (59%)
  2. Keighley (40%)
  3. Sherbet (40%)
  4. Et cetra (34%)
  5. St Pancras (33%)
  6. Espresso (26%)
  7. Bruschetta (25%)
  8. Often (24%)
  9. Prescription (21%)
  10. Greenwich (16%)

 

The choreographed routine included performances to tracks from the film Dirty Dancing, which starred Patrick Swayze, who sadly lost his battle to pancreatic cancer in 2009, just 20 months after diagnosis.

Pancreatic Cancer Action St Pancras International (6) Cropped

Ali Stunt from Pancreatic Cancer Action adds: “While it can be amusing when people mix up St Pancras and St Pancreas, it also serves as a positive inadvertently by raising awareness of a disease that has been little known for far too long.  Pancreatic cancer has had the same shockingly low survival rate of three per cent for 40 years.  If more is known about the disease and its symptoms, this will hopefully lead to more people being diagnosed earlier and an increase in the number of survivors so any awareness is a great.

 

“The flash mob was a huge success as we were not only able to put a smile on people’s faces but given the opportunity to hand out leaflets and raise vital funds for the charity,” continues Ali.  “We were grateful to St Pancras International for allowing us to raise awareness at the station and to the performers from Living the Dream for putting on such a great performance.

 

“We are asking the general public to help us raise awareness by sharing the flash mob video across social media.”

 

To find out more, please visit http://pancreaticcanceraction.org/support-us/fundraise/ or call 0303 040 1770.

 

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of much admired Kerry Harvey, who passed away on Saturday 22nd February

Kerry Harvey

We were deeply saddened to hear the news that the beautiful and inspiring Kerry Harvey passed away, aged 24, on the morning of Saturday 22nd February. 

She was a brave and courageous young woman who touched so many hearts with her determination to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer despite being very ill herself. Since her diagnosis in April 2013, she devoted a significant amount of her own time trying to raise the profile of the disease that she, like many other pancreatic cancer patients, had not heard of before her diagnosis.

Kerry campaigned with selfless vigour and, despite facing criticism, wanted to help others by encouraging earlier diagnosis and attract more funds for research. She said herself, ‘some people have to shout louder and I’m on my rooftop with a megaphone.’
 
We are so grateful to her contribution to our awareness campaign. Her strength and fortitude we and other pancreatic cancer sufferers, their families and friends are very grateful for.
 
Our thoughts are now with her husband Matt and all of her family and friends at this difficult time. 
 
We will never forget Kerry who will be dearly missed, and remain in the hearts and thoughts of all of us at Pancreatic Cancer Action.  

Abraxane now licensed in the UK & Ireland – but not yet available on NHS

Medical researchThe chemotherapy agent Abraxane® (nab-paclitaxel) in combination with gemcitabine has now been licensed in the UK and Ireland for treating metastatic pancreatic cancer. The drug, which costs £8,000 per year will be immediately available for private patients but not for those treated in the NHS.

Recent clinical trial data showed that nab-paclitaxel in combination with gemcitabine demonstrated an increase in overall survival of 2.1 months (from 6.7 months to 8.5 months) when compared to gemcitabine alone. What was also important was that one-year survival rates rose from 22 per cent to 35 per cent and two year survival doubled from 4 per cent to over 9 per cent.

This is the first new licensed treatment for pancreatic cancer in 17 years which has shown a survival advantage for pancreatic cancer patients and it is important that all eligible patients, whether being treated privately or in the NHS have access to this new regimen.

The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) which provides an additional £200m each year to enable patients to access drugs that are not routinely funded by the NHS will be deciding next month whether to fund the use of Abraxane by the NHS for patients who need it. We at Pancreatic Cancer action certainly hope this will be the case:

Ali Stunt, Founder & Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action said; “It’s been a long wait for a new therapy to offer pancreatic cancer patients with advanced disease a survival advantage over the current standard of care. We hope the Cancer Drugs Fund will make the right decision to allow access to this treatment for patients in the NHS.”

Abraxane with gemcitabine will be appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for its routine use in metastatic pancreatic cancer. The consultation period required means though that it is unlikely we will see a decision being made before the autumn. In the meantime, the only hope that NHS patients can access this treatment sooner is via the Cancer Drugs Fund.

 

Pancreatic Cancer Action follow hard-hitting initiative with symptoms awareness campaign

Pancreatic Cancer Action, the UK-based charity behind the hard-hitting ‘I wish I had’ adverts, plans to release a second series of adverts across the London Underground to raise awareness of the symptoms of the fifth biggest cancer killer.
 
“The objective of our initial campaign, which has received worldwide attention, was to raise massive awareness of pancreatic cancer and the grim statistics, including the shockingly low 3% survival rate.” says Ali Stunt, a rare survivor of pancreatic cancer and founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action.  
 
The charity has seen a 200% increase in web traffic, and a particular spike in visits to the page which focuses on symptoms. “We’ve had so many people contact us to tell us that the campaign has successfully initiated conversation about pancreatic cancer, and have been invited to discuss the issues at a political conference in Spring.” continues Ali.
 
“The huge attention pancreatic cancer has received this week has provided us with an opportunity to bring forward a symptoms-led awareness campaign.  The new adverts will raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease to encourage more people to visit their doctor.”     
 
The new creative features the same faces from the first round, Penny, Andy and Kerry, and still uses quotes, but focuses on how they and their doctors missed the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Lines like “They call it the silent killer. But my symptoms weren’t silent” leading in to a list of symptoms to be aware of:
  • Persistent, new onset upper abdominal or upper back pain
  • Jaundice – yellowing skin or eyes, itchy skin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Foul smelling stool that won’t flush easily

 Due to lack of awareness of the disease and symptoms, people are often diagnosed too late for surgery, which is currently the only cure. The average life expectancy most people will face is just four to six months. 
 
“Ultimately we want to see a dramatic increase in the number of people that survive this awful cancer,” continues Ali. “While no early detection device exists, awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer is a key to saving lives.”
 
The charity is focused on educating the public and medical community as well as funding research into early diagnosis. They also campaign for more funding from the government, which currently stands at less than one per cent of all research funding. 
 
If you have any of these symptoms ask your doctor to rule it out.

For more information, please visit www.pancreaticcanceraction.org.  
The advertising for both campaigns was devised and created by creative agency Team Darwin.

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Scientists inch closer to blood test for pancreatic cancer

A new blood test might one day help doctors spot pancreatic cancer in its early stages, Danish scientists report.

The resBlood testearchers said their testing is still too preliminary to be certain it can accurately diagnose pancreatic cancer in patients whose chances of survival are higher.

There currently is no screening test for pancreatic cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United Kingdom . It is typically diagnosed at a late stage, making treatment problematic and the prognosis poor.

“Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease. The only chance for cure is surgical [removal of a portion of the organ],” said Dr. Donald Richards, a pancreatic cancer specialist at Texas Oncology, in Tyler.

“Even with surgery, the majority of patients are not cured,” Richards said. “For many more patients, the cancer is so far along that surgery is not even an option.  Being able to detect pancreatic cancer at a very early stage could change this, and lead to the cure of this disease,” Richards said.

The Danish report was published in the Jan. 22 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The new test looks for telling patterns in certain pieces of genetic material known as microRNA. When these patterns show up, it raises the likelihood of pancreatic cancer, the researchers said.

For the study, a team lead by Dr. Nicolai Schultz, from the Herlev Hospital, a part of Copenhagen University Hospital, analyzed the blood of more than 400 patients with pancreatic cancer, comparing them with about 300 healthy individuals and 25 patients with chronic pancreatitis.

For comparison, they also checked the levels of a specific compound, known as CA19-9, that is elevated in about 80 percent of patients with pancreatic cancer.

In the end, they found two specific microRNA tests that potentially could be used to diagnose pancreatic cancer.

One drawback to the tests, so far, is the high number of false positive results, the researchers said. Combining their tests with the CA19-9 test could be used to refer patients for MRIs or CT scans that could make a definitive diagnosis, they said.

“The test could thereby diagnose more patients with pancreatic cancer — some of them at an early stage — and thus have a potential to increase the number of patients that can be operated on and possibly cured of pancreatic cancer,” the researchers said.

“These preliminary results need to be validated and their clinical implications understood before the test could be widely used,” they said.

William Phelps, program director at the American Cancer Society, said this new test is a good advancement.

“Pancreatic cancer has one of the most dismal prognoses that we have in cancer,” he said.

Phelps said he doesn’t think the treatments used today are all that effective, even when the cancer is diagnosed early.

“Having an early diagnosis system could be useful,” he said. “It’s kind of based on an article of faith in that we expect there will be good therapies arising in the future.”

“You would like early detection to be paired with a capacity to treat successfully,” he said. “We don’t have those things for pancreatic cancer yet, but we expect to get them.”

Phelps said he thinks, however, the latest research is headed in a promising direction.

Richards added: “It is hoped that, with time, such an approach would allow us to detect pancreatic cancer at a much more survivable stage. Lots of work still needs to be done. The test needs to be validated much more thoroughly. It is a step in the right direction.”