After hearing the news that nine in ten patients who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as an emergency presentation will sadly die within a year, we said we would write a letter to the Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, to ask this issue to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Well, here it is! A letter to Jeremy Hunt from Ali Stunt, the founder and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action. Ali will be posting this letter today and we will keep you updated as to the response.
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A letter from CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action to the Health Minister
I am writing to you in my capacity as Founder and Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action and also as one of your constituents.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been made aware of a number of statistics which, despite many advances in other cancers, are showing a worrying declining situation for pancreatic cancer.
You will be well aware that any diagnosis of cancer is life-changing, but what’s particularly horrific about pancreatic cancer is its survival rate. Just 5% of those who are diagnosed with it will survive past 5 years and most will be dead within 4-6 months. I am one of only 1% of patients who live beyond 10 years. This is the worst survival rate of any of the 22 common cancers.
Pancreatic cancer is the 5th biggest cause of cancer death in the UK and it is set to become the 4th biggest by 2026 as other cancers’ survival rates continue to improve. The survival statistics for pancreatic cancer have not changed markedly in nearly 50 years.
What has come to our attention recently is that incidence in the UK as a whole in 2015 has risen by 17 per cent since 2010, exceeding Globocan predictions for the year, and mortality increased by 13 per cent over the same period. Routes to Diagnosis data for 2015 show that 44% of pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed as an emergency presentation. Sadly, of those, only 1 in 10 will survive a year. Your chances of surviving a year are three times greater should you be referred to a specialist from primary care. Sadly, too few patients are diagnosed this way.
And just this week, the CONCORD-3 study published in the Lancet found that the UK comes 47th out of the 56 countries surveyed for 5-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer continues to be diagnosed late, the UK is lagging far behind the rest of the world in terms of survival and consequently more people are dying from the disease and this is something we urgently need to address.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Pancreatic Cancer published the report “The Need for Speed” in November 2017 following an inquiry into early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. In the report were several recommendations including increasing funding, a Public Health England awareness campaign, Increased GP support, plus faster diagnostic pathways.
While we understand that there will not be an overnight solution to overcoming the problems with this disease it would be good to discuss how a strategic plan for pancreatic cancer could be developed and how we can incorporate some of the recommendations made in the report into such a strategy.
To this end, I and my colleagues at Pancreatic Cancer Action would like to arrange a meeting with you to discuss how together we can bring about change for pancreatic cancer. We will be happy to meet you either at your Hindhead surgery (all three of us are Haslemere residents) or at your office in London.
I look forward to hearing from you in the very near future.
Founder & Chief Executive
Pancreatic Cancer Action