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We have a proud history of fighting for our patients, fighting to improve early diagnosis and fighting to save lives. In 2022 we had some major achievements which we truly believe will have a significant impact to help improve the survival rates for pancreatic cancer. Some of those highlights included:
Now all those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the age of 60 who present with weight loss and new-onset diabetes will now be referred for a CT-Scan automatically to be checked for pancreatic cancer. Around 30% of all pancreatic cancer cases receive a diagnosis of diabetes before their cancer is discovered, in some cases, this is up to three years earlier.
When pancreatic cancer is suspected, anything we can do to get that diagnosis as quickly as possible has the potential to save lives. Only 80% of patients are diagnosed in time for surgery, currently the only cure. At the start of 2022, only 21% of GPs in England could make direct referrals for a CT-Scan. However, thanks to PCA campaigning and your support now every GP team in England is now able to directly order CT scans and ultrasounds and the Scottish Government have indicated they will also be adopting our proposals.
Many patients with the symptoms of pancreatic cancer will go to the local pharmacy to self-medicate. Pharmacists are well placed to review patients presenting multiple times for over-the-counter medication and who present at appointments asking for advice. We have seen the importance of your local pharmacy in helping us improve early diagnosis for some time which is why we have invested in accredited e-learning for pharmacists and have been lobbying to empower pharmacists to be able to make direct referrals for those with red-flag cancer symptoms. In a huge win for PCA and patients, the UK Government has committed to rolling out these powers to help us to improve early diagnosis and save lives.
We know how important it is to support patients and families throughout their journey with pancreatic cancer. Not only do we provide accredited information booklets for patients and their families, but we have also been funding a pancreatic clinical nurse specialist within the NHS. This means they can support patients and their families from the day of their diagnosis as well as supporting recruitment onto vital clinical trial research programmes.
This pilot scheme has been an absolute success. Thanks to our supporter’s incredible generosity we are happy to announce that later this year we will be recruiting a second specialist nurse to reach and support more patients than ever before.
Even with these major achievements, we have not stopped fighting for patients and already in 2023 have been lobbying and campaigning for innovations that have the potential the save lives.