Doctors not equipped to diagnose pancreatic cancer

  • May 7, 2019
  • Statistics released by Cancer Research UK indicate that pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate out of 20 common types of cancer, with just 1% of patients surviving for ten years after diagnosis. These statistics also demonstrate that the survival rate for pancreatic cancer has seen no improvement in the past 40 years.

    A recent survey conducted by Pancreatic Cancer UK revealed that GPs feel that they are ill-equipped to diagnose pancreatic cancer early enough to start treatment. While half of those surveyed felt that they had some of the tools they needed, just 3% said they were very confident that they could detect the signs of pancreatic cancer in a patient.

    In order for any improvement to be seen, GP Dr Ellie Cannon said that “access to imaging for GPs is going to have to improve. If we have to go through a specialist it takes too long to get those scans. If the government really want to do this they have to commit to access for GPs”.

    New research project

    In an attempt to improve survival rates for pancreatic cancer patients, Pancreatic Cancer UK has launched a new research project, the aim of which is to develop a simple test for the disease which can be put into practice in the next five years.

    Diana Jupp, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “For too long pancreatic cancer has been able to silently go undetected, devastating families. Thousands of patients a year, still reeling from hearing the word cancer, are told it’s too late, that nothing can be done for them. This has to stop. We have to give doctors the tools they need to detect the warning signs earlier, so they can ensure those who need it, receive treatment as soon as possible.”

    Government response

    In 2016, NHS England made £200m in funding available to assist in achieving earlier cancer diagnosis and higher survival rates. Following on from this, a new cancer diagnosis standard to be introduced in 2020 has been designed to diagnose and inform patients of diagnosis within 28 days.

    Whilst the new 28 day target is an admirable goal, GP’s fear that it may be unrealistic, with only 1 in 5 GPs believing that it is achievable for patients with pancreatic cancer.

    Amrit Dhaliwal, an Associate Solicitor from the Medical Accident Group, said: “The lack of progress in diagnosing and treating pancreatic cancer is concerning. We have experience dealing with delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment and have succeeded in securing compensation for patients and their families.”

    If you or someone you know has suffered a delay in the diagnosis or treatment of cancer or have lost a loved one due to their condition not being managed correctly then please contact us. If you believe you have a claim, call the team now on 0800 050 1668 or email us at [email protected].


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