Speeding up access to surgery could increase pancreatic cancer survival rates, study finds

11th August 2017

Speeding up access to surgery could increase pancreatic cancer survival rates, study finds

Forty years ago, only 3% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survived for more than five years. Today, despite four decades of medical advances, that figure remains the same.

While survival rates for leukemia and breast cancer have soared since the mid-1970s, patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer still face the same bleak outlook.

However, a new pilot scheme could be about to radically improve sufferers’ prognosis, as well as significantly reducing the financial burden treating the disease places on an already stretched NHS.

The potential solution is simple: by speeding up access to surgery for patients diagnosed early enough, success rates increase by a third. Meanwhile, the NHS saves £3,200 per case.

The impact could be huge – about 9,600 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year.

The trial, in Birmingham, involved cutting average time to surgery for 32 patients from two months to just over a fortnight. In all, 31 had their tumours removed successfully.

Currently, just 8% of pancreatic cancer patients in the UK have surgery to successfully remove their tumour because the majority are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when surgery is not an option.

The team at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, led by pancreatic surgeon Keith Roberts, worked with hospitals to speed up referrals for patients and reorganised the way surgery was carried out.

Speeding up time to surgery resulted in a 97% success rate, compared with a current average of 75%. However, it will be two years before doctors know if operating earlier extends life.

Alex Ford, of Pancreatic Cancer UK, which funded the study, said: “These results are incredibly exciting. Surgery is the only treatment for pancreatic cancer that can save lives.

“If we can ensure that hundreds more patients have their tumour successfully removed each year, it could be a huge breakthrough in treatment.”

How can Gotelee help?

Gotelee’s team of Medical Negligence lawyers have extensive experience in this area. We have, on several occasions, represented the families of patients who died having received late diagnosis despite numerous visits to their GP and hospital.

This new research highlights the importance of doctors recognising the symptoms and then taking action much earlier. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all forms of the disease – but has for too long attracted relatively little in the way of research funding and has suffered from a lack of public awareness.

While the NHS is rightly held in high esteem in this country, mistakes are still made from time to time – and when they are, patients and their loved ones have a right to seek compensation.

Making a claim could result in you receiving the necessary financial help to deal with the consequences of an error or late diagnosis, as well as providing closure and the reassurance that the same mistake won’t be repeated.

Gotelee can advise you whether or not you have the basis of a claim and then support you through the process at any of our offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge or Melton. To find out more, call Nadia Bolton on 01473 298125 or email nadia.bolton@gotelee.co.uk.

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