17 April 2024
Pancreatic Cancer

Given that the UK ranks 15th out of 16 European countries for five-year pancreatic cancer survival, more must be done to increase early diagnosis to reduce the survival gap between pancreatic cancer and other cancers.  The NHS Long Term Plan set an ambition to improve these outcomes, so that 75 per cent of all cancers can be diagnosed at stage 1 and 2 by 2028 when it is easier to treat.

This ambition will be achieved through ongoing work between the Department of Health and Social Care to increase early diagnosis and survival rates for pancreatic cancer.  Through the Elective Recovery Plan, the Government is investing £2.3 billion to create more Community Diagnostic Centres which will be prioritised for cancer services.

A Faster Diagnosis Standard for cancer will be introduced so that patients who are referred urgently or identified by NHS cancer screening have a maximum 28-day wait for being told definitely whether they have cancer or not.  In addition, there will be a maximum 31-day wait from a decision to treat to any cancer treatment starting for all cancer patients.

My understanding is that the NHS is also implementing non-specific symptom (NSS) pathways for patients who present with vague and non-site specific symptoms (including pancreatic cancer symptoms) which do not align clearly to a tumour type. The NSS programme aims to achieve full population coverage across England for NSS pathways by March 2024.

Pancreatic Cancer UK Manifesto

Whilst I cannot commit to supporting the recommendations in Pancreatic Cancer UK’s election manifesto, I recognise the urgency of improving diagnosis times, and the time from diagnosis to treatment for pancreatic cancer. In January 2024, NHS England relaunched the Help Us, Help You campaign, which is designed to increase awareness of red flag symptoms and help drive earlier diagnosis.  This sits alongside NHS England’s work to support faster referral routes for people with non-specific symptoms that could be linked to a range of cancer types and increasing general practice direct access to diagnostic tests.