We all know someone close to us who has been affected by cancer. Sadly, pancreatic cancer is a common form of cancer with a higher mortality rate than others. I’m pleased that tackling this is a top priority for the Government.
I know that there was a debate on Cancer Targets earlier this year, at which Members of Parliament raised the devastating impact of Pancreatic Cancer in particular. My colleagues discussed work being done in Birmingham to establish a ‘fast-track pathway’, which sees a dedicated specialist nurse prepare a patient to receive surgery within 16 days of referral. The results of this pilot scheme are being examined by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
In February 2017, Public Health England launched ‘Be Clear on Cancer’, a campaign targeted at identifying symptoms of pancreatic cancer earlier – early diagnosis is key to improving outcomes. This regional pilot included symptoms like persistent diarrhoea, bloating and discomfort. More than 90 per cent of the target audience reported that the campaign made them realise these symptoms could be a sign of something more serious. More than 80 per cent reported they were more likely to visit a GP as a result.
In October 2018, the Prime Minister launched a new Cancer Strategy, outlining aims for tackling cancer. These priorities include lowering the screening age for bowel cancer, facilitating earlier detection, and establishing a cervical cancer screening programme.
I share ambitions for faster treatment pathways across pancreatic and all types of cancer; my colleagues at DHSC are working hard to examine the work being done by clinicians to improve treatment timelines across the country.