Yesterday (1st August 2018) a new community group, Northern Ireland Pancreatic Cancer (NIPanC), was launched to promote better outcomes for pancreatic cancer sufferers in Northern Ireland.
The group was set up by local people who have been directly affected by pancreatic cancer, including Pancreatic Cancer Action’s regional representative and founder of Action for Noel, Kerry Irvine.
Pancreatic cancer is a major health issue for Northern Ireland, with around 270 deaths per annum. The disease has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer (less than 7% survive 5 years) – rates which haven’t changed markedly in almost 50 years.
NIPanC’s vision is to end all deaths from pancreatic cancer in Northern Ireland by increasing public understanding, promoting professional awareness, funding research and supporting patients. The group has been developed in partnership with Pancreatic Cancer Action and Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and will give a stronger voice to families in Northern Ireland. You can read more about the group on their website.
Actor Jamie Dornan, who sadly lost his mum to pancreatic cancer in 1998 when he was just 16, has become patron for the group. Speaking at the launch of the new group at the Mater hospital in Belfast, which houses the regional Pancreatic Cancer Unit, Jamie Dornan said:
“I was very pleased to accept the role of patron for this important new group. As someone who has been affected directly by this terrible disease, with the death of my mother Lorna when I was younger, I know the human tragedy of pancreatic cancer and its effect on families and our wider community.
It is a tragedy that the extremely low survival rates for pancreatic cancer have not improved significantly in 40 years. But there is much that we can do to address this.
We must improve awareness of the cancer in the community and, importantly, amongst medical professionals; we must channel more funding, both public and private, into necessary research; and we must offer better support to families affected by pancreatic cancer.
These are the goals of NIPanC and I am wholly behind this new group in taking forwards this crucial work within Northern Ireland.”
Ali Stunt, Founder and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action says:
“We at Pancreatic Cancer Action are delighted to be a part of this collaborative effort in Northern Ireland to improve pancreatic cancer awareness, outcomes, research funding and support for patients.
NIPanC has been formed by those who have had their lives touched by pancreatic cancer and who are passionate about making change including their new President, Professor James Dornan and his son, Jamie Dornan who is Patron.
We wish them every success in their endeavours and we at Pancreatic Cancer Action will be supporting them all the way!”
Dr Mark Taylor, chair of NIPanC said:
“The strength of NIPanC is that it brings together individuals who have suffered from this cancer, families who have direct experience of the impact of this cancer and medical professionals dealing with this condition.
Looking forward, there are very real prospects of innovative research improving treatments and increasing the survivability of this cancer, for example the pioneering ‘sonodynamic therapy’ research taking place at the Ulster University, which aims to make chemotherapy and radiotherapy more effective for pancreatic cancer.
But we must prioritise research, increase public awareness of its symptoms and promote early diagnosis.”