Swansea East AM backs campaign for faster treatment for people with quickest killing cancer

Swansea East AM backs campaign for faster treatment for people with quickest killing cancer

Mike Hedges AM has pledged his support to Pancreatic Cancer UK’s campaign demanding faster treatment for people with pancreatic cancer – three in four patients with the disease die within a year of diagnosis making it the quickest killing cancer. The charity is calling for the Welsh Government to set a new ambition to begin treatment for all pancreatic cancer patients across the UK within 20 days of diagnosis by 2024.
At an event to highlight Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Demand Faster Treatment campaign held at the Welsh Assembly, Mike Hedges AM heard that if avoidable delays to treatment were removed many more pancreatic cancer patients could be eligible for surgery – the only current cure for the disease. To help achieve this ambition the charity is recommending the roll-out of a new treatment programme which in a recent trial successfully reduced patients’ time to surgery from two months to just over two weeks.

Mike Hedges AM said: “76 people within the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year and tragically less than seven per cent will survive beyond five years. This is unacceptable and much more needs to be done to improve the outcomes for people with this deadly disease.
“I hope everyone in Swansea East will join me in backing this campaign to transform the future for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and help them receive treatment before it is too late.”
The charity released a report to coincide with the campaign which revealed that pancreatic cancer patients who have surgery are ten times more likely to live for five years or more than patients who do not (1). New analysis by Pancreatic Cancer UK shows that if even a modest increase in the proportion of patients receiving surgery (from the current rate of less than ten per cent, to just 15 per cent) was sustained over five years, it could give 2,100 more patients across the UK at least a year of precious time with their loved ones and potentially be lifesaving (*).

To help achieve the increase, the charity is calling for the introduction of accelerated treatment models for pancreatic cancer within the NHS similar to those which are already in place for more well-known cancers such as breast and prostate. This would include establishing one-stop clinics where patients can have all tests to determine their suitability for surgery in one place. Clinical nurse specialists would be recruited to coordinate with other NHS services addition to supporting patients. Implementing both of these measures would significantly speed-up treatment decisions. The number of tests required, the wait for results, and the need to consult doctors from multiple specialisms due to the complexity of pancreatic cancer are major causes of delays in treating the disease when there is no time to waste.

Diana Jupp, Chief Executive at Pancreatic Cancer UK said: “We’re extremely grateful Mike Hedges AM has shown his support for our Demand Faster Treatment campaign. Too many pancreatic cancer patients are being denied their only chance of survival because they are simply not being treated fast enough. Three in four people diagnosed with this devastating disease die within a year, making it the quickest killing cancer. It’s so ferocious that patients cannot afford to wait. In recent years we have seen outstanding progress in other cancers such as breast and prostate, and a shocking lack of progress for pancreatic. Together we can change that.

“We are urging people from Swansea East to take on this deadly cancer and sign our petition calling on the government to recognise pancreatic cancer as an emergency. We owe it to all those affected by pancreatic cancer to be more ambitious and make sure that everyone is treated within 20 days of diagnosis.”

Three in four people with pancreatic cancer die within a year of diagnosis, making it the quickest killing cancer. Survival for the incredibly tough disease has lagged behind other cancers since the 1970s, with less than seven per cent of people with pancreatic cancer patients living for five years (4). UK survival for pancreatic cancer is behind that of European counterparts: Belgium and Germany have a five-year survival of 12 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

Pancreatic Cancer UK is calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to set a new ambition to treat all patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 20 days by 2024. To find out more about the Demand Faster Treatment campaign and sign the petition, visit: www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/demandfastertreatment


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Notes to editors:

For further information please contact:
Mike Hedges AM
01792 790621 or [email protected]


(*) Calculations based on unpublished data from our academic partners in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), showing higher survival for patients currently receiving surgery (less than 10%). We made a prediction of how many more lives will be extended if we reach the target of 15% for individuals affected to receive potentially curative surgery.
This represented 420 extra people surviving one year compared to the current surgery rates (<10%). Over a 5-year period this would represent over 2,000 more people living for at least one year.



(1) Cancer Survival group in London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2018)

(2) Tumour resection rate was 9.7% (2013-2015) in England for pancreatic cancer, therefore, over 90% of all patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer did not have surgery. NCRAS Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and Tumour Resection in England 2013-2015

(3) National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service. 42.58% of people diagnosed at stage I/II receive potentially curative surgery, therefore, 57.42% do not receive surgery. 837.7 people diagnosed at stage I/II, will not have surgery in England every year http://www.ncin.org.uk/cancer_type_and_topic_specific_work/topic_specific_work/main_cancer_treatments

(4) (Source: CONCORD-3 (2010-2014), The Lancet, 2018)

About pancreatic cancer:
• Less than 7% of people with pancreatic cancer will survive beyond 5 years in the UK. Source: ONS, full data here
• Five year survival for pancreatic cancer has improved very little since the early 1970s.
• One person dies of pancreatic cancer every hour. Around 8,800 people die every year of the disease in the UK.
• 80 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage.
• Surgery is the only treatment which could save lives, yet only eight per cent of people with pancreatic cancer have it.
• Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival of all the 20 common cancers.
• Around 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer per year in the UK. That’s 26 people every day.
• Pancreatic cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK
Source: Cancer Research UK
• Pancreatic cancer research has historically been underfunded. The disease attracts just 1.9 per cent of the UK cancer research budget.
Source: NCRI 2015/2016
About Pancreatic Cancer UK:
Pancreatic Cancer UK is taking on pancreatic cancer through research, support and campaigning to transform the future for people affected.
• We provide expert, personalised support and information via our Support Line (Freephone 0808 801 0707) and through a range of publications.
• We fund innovative research to find the breakthroughs that will change how we understand, diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer.
• We campaign for change; for better care, treatment and research, and for pancreatic cancer to have the recognition it needs.