There are no screening programs or early detection tests for pancreatic cancer, meaning CT scans are the only tool available to help doctors diagnose the disease in time to remove the tumor and save lives
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Less than a third of GPs have adequate access to the vital scans needed to diagnose the deadliest cancer.
Shocking surveys of GPs have revealed why UK survival rates for pancreatic cancer lag behind the rest of the world.
Only one in four people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in England survive their disease for a year or more.
There are no screening programs or early detection tests for pancreatic cancer, meaning CT scans are currently the only tool available to help doctors diagnose the disease in time to remove the tumor and save lives.
The Savanta ComRes survey of 1,004 UK GPs found that 36% said they had “sometimes enough access”.
An alarming 20% were either “rarely” or “never” able to refer someone they suspected of having pancreatic cancer within the 28-day diagnostic standard.
Only 30% of general practitioners “always” have sufficient access to vital scans.
Pancreatic Cancer UK, which commissioned the survey, says it may have developed the first simple blood test to diagnose the deadly cancer.
It has invested £1.6 million in its Early Diagnosis Research Alliance, which brings together more than 40 leading UK scientists who developed the test, which has proven extremely accurate in laboratory trials.
However, the charity has launched a fundraiser so its research can move into human clinical trials that can prove it works.
Diana Jupp, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK said: “Sorry, it’s too late. We can’t save you” are the devastating words that 80% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will hear this year.
“The same words that the majority of patients and their families have heard over the past 50 years. We’ve barely made any progress.
“We simply cannot allow this to continue, not when we have seen the groundbreaking impact of early detection research for breast, prostate and other common cancers.
“We must give doctors the innovative new tools they need to spot the warning signs earlier so they can ensure those who need it are treated as quickly as possible.
“It’s an enormous challenge, but if the public supports us, it can help provide the first diagnostic test for the deadliest common cancer — a historic breakthrough that could save thousands of lives annually.”
Although a similar number of people die from breast cancer each year, pancreatic cancer receives 93% less research funding.
The charity says decades of underinvestment mean that today more than half of people with pancreatic cancer still die within three months of diagnosis – odds of survival that have improved little since the 1970s.
Eight out of 10 people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed after the disease has spread – almost twice the rate of other types of cancer.
Only 7% of patients with pancreatic cancer in the UK survive more than five years, and a landmark 2018 study showed that five-year survival rates here ranked 29th out of 33 countries with comparable data.
The disease claims about 10,000 lives annually and has notoriously vague symptoms such as back pain, indigestion and unexpected weight loss.
Almost half of all patients with pancreatic cancer are currently diagnosed in an emergency, such as through a visit to the emergency room.
The one-year survival rate for patients diagnosed through a GP referral is three times higher.
Pancreatic Cancer UK’s survey asked whether GPs had adequate access to scans for patients. 30% answered “always”, 36% “sometimes”, 13% “rarely”, 7% “never” and 14% “don’t know”.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/just-30-gps-sufficient-access-27171336 Only 30% of GPs have sufficient access to vital scans to save pancreatic cancer patients