Pancreatic cancer adjournment debate on 15 January 2015

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It’s been a while since the pancreatic cancer debate calling for more funding and awareness on 8th September 2014 so it’s good to see that pancreatic cancer is still being discussed in parliament.

“This is the beginning of the rest of the campaign” were the final words from Nik Dakin, MP for Scunthorpe, at the backbench debate in September.  Since then, Mr Dakin has kept to his word, by continuing to support his constituent Maggie Watts in raising the profile of pancreatic cancer in parliament.

On Thursday 15th January, Mr Dakin opened an adjournment debate on the future of medical support for pancreatic cancer sufferers.

Mr Dakin told his peers about the lack of progress in medical support for pancreatic cancer patients: “Thankfully, these days a majority of cancer patients survive for 10 years. Sadly, that is not the case for pancreatic cancer patients, of whom fewer than 1% survive 10 years. That is why future medical support for pancreatic cancer—greater awareness, early diagnosis, new treatments and faster access to treatments—is so important.”

Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, expressed his delight about a new independent taskforce set up to develop a five year action plan for cancer services that will build on the existing work to improve survival rates and save thousands more lives.: “The new strategy will set a clear direction covering the following areas: prevention; early and faster diagnosis; better treatment and care for all; recovery, re-ablement and living with and beyond cancer; research and innovation; end-of-life care; data and metrics; and work force. “

Mr Ollerenshaw said the taskforce will produce a statement of intent by March this year, with the new strategy published in the summer.

Health minister Jane Ellison concluded the debate, providing ministers with feedback to their comments. This included, in response to calls for a public awareness campaign for pancreatic cancer:  “I have a meeting with Sean Duffy (National Clinical Director for Cancer Services) coming up, and I would be happy to raise that issue with him, along with any other points arising from this debate. It will certainly be on my agenda for discussions with him. I have touched on the matter briefly with him before, but I will pick it up again.”

Ms Ellison referred to comments from MPs about their concerns relating to Abraxane remaining on the CDF: “The CDF panel has decided that further consideration of Abraxane for the treatment of pancreatic cancer is needed, and it will remain on the national CDF list until that has been concluded. I am not yet sure about the timings, but I will undertake to update the all-party group, including the hon. Members for Scunthorpe and my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood, in due course.

Ms Ellison also said that she had a very successful meeting with the Chief Medical Officer who is keen to attend one of the APPG’s on Pancreatic Cancer.  A number of research projects were mention too.

Ms Ellison concluded the debate: “We know that achieving improved outcomes for people with the disease is a huge challenge, but I believe that the change that we all desperately want to see will come. I welcome the new cancer taskforce, which will be leading the way, and I undertake to write to its independent chairman, drawing his attention to this evening’s important debate and the work of the all-party group.”

To read the debate in full, you can visit:  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150115/debtext/150115-0004.htm