Friday, 29 November 2013

Lancaster's MP challenges Prime Minister on pancreatic cancer care

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw challenged Prime Minister David Cameron on pancreatic cancer care in the House of Parliament, earlier this week, drawing attention to the slow speed of improving survival rates in the UK.

"By the end of this year, more than 8,000 people in our country will have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, of which only four per cent will have even the chance of a five-year survival rate.," he noted. "Those figures have not changed for the last 30 years."

Mr Ollerenshaw, whose partner died from pancreatic cancer, then asked the Prime Minister if he would join the all-party group on pancreatic cancer and Pancreatic Cancer UK in their aim, which is that it is time to change and improve on those dreadful outcomes.

An experienced campaigner and former board member of Great Ormond Street Hospital, the questions came after the recent publication of a Parliamentary report which said NHS treatment for pancreatic cancer is not patient-centred, well co-ordinated or efficient.

The committee, chaired by Mr Ollerenshaw made 12 recommendations, including a call to increase awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and a review of the services and tests available to GPs.

"My honorable Friend makes a good point," responded Mr Cameron. "An issue always raised by charities campaigning on some of the less well-known and less prevalent cancers is that they do not get a fair share of the research funding.

"That is an issue that I have taken up with the Health Secretary," the Prime Minister added. "We need to make sure that we are spreading research funding and the work we do into cancer fairly across the different disciplines and across the different cancers."

Survival rates for pancreatic cancer are very low. In addition to the low survival rate after diagnosis,
only 10  to 20 per cent of patients are suitable for surgery and most people (around 80 per cent) die within the first year. 

There is a mistaken belief that pancreatic cancer is a rare cancer, affecting small numbers of mostly elderly, male patients. Symptoms can be vague but include pain in the stomach area, weight loss and jaundice.

• Lancaster-based CancerCare was established in 1983 to provide support to cancer patients and those around them in an informal, relaxed manner. Facing cancer, whether as a patient, carer, or family member can be a life changing experience. CancerCare helps people as they come to terms with these changes through providing emotional, social and psychological support.More info: www.cancercare.org.uk

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