First and foremost, please be assured that I recognise the importance of this issue. I sadly lost my mother and stepsister to cancer.
Therefore, I welcome that every effort is being made to improve early diagnosis and to drive up survival rates for pancreatic cancer.
I fully agree that more must be done to reduce the survival gap between pancreatic cancer and other cancers, and the development of the 10 Year Cancer Plan provides an important opportunity to focus on improving these outcomes.
Key priorities in the Plan will include supporting earlier diagnosis of cancer and increasing survival rates to match the best in Europe.
The input of patient groups like Pancreatic Cancer UK will be invaluable to help develop the 10 Year Cancer Plan by highlighting the lived experience of people with pancreatic cancer. I understand that the Plan will be published in due course and the Government is currently reviewing the responses to the recent call for evidence.
Research into less survivable cancers such as pancreatic cancer is also important to improving outcomes. The Government funds research through the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), which has allocated £3.6 million towards seven research projects into pancreatic cancer since 2016.
Although this funding amounts to 5 per cent of the NIHR’s total cancer research spending, the Government is actively encouraging more bids from researchers so that the NIHR can allocate more towards pancreatic cancer research.
Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) is an important and valuable treatment that can help those who suffer with pancreatic cancer manage the symptoms of problems with digestion and cope better with treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. This can have a significant impact on quality of life.
Therefore, I am glad that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines recommend that PERT should be considered for people with both operable and inoperable pancreatic cancer.
I fully appreciate there is more work to be done to increase awareness of PERT among healthcare professionals. To this end the NHS has commissioned an audit into pancreatic cancer which will look to reduce variations in treatment and improving patient outcomes.
Data from this audit is expected in 2023, and in the meantime the NHS continues to work with Pancreatic Cancer UK to raise awareness of PERT, including sharing guidance with Cancer Alliances.
Unfortunately, I was unable attend Pancreatic Cancer UK’s parliamentary drop-in event due to prior Parliamentary commitments. However, I will make sure to read any information or briefing about the issues affecting people living with pancreatic cancer in my local area.