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Improved diagnosis could save lives from pancreatic cancer

Wednesday 27th July 2016
Earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer could help to save thousands of lives. Image: Nerthuz via iStock
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Nurses will need to play a key role in helping to quicken the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer by assisting with screening programmes and providing patient care as action is taken to tackle the disease throughout the UK.

Pancreatic cancer is currently the deadliest form of the condition in the country, with statistics from Cancer Research UK showing that more than 9,000 people were diagnosed with the illness in 2014, with only just over 1,000 surviving for 12 months or more after diagnosis.

What's more, figures show that pancreatic cancer is the cancer least likely to be detected in an early stage when it is easiest to treat, with just one-fifth (21 per cent) of cases being diagnosed at stage one or two.

Professor Andrew Biankin, a world leader in cancer research who has recently been recruited to the Cancer Research UK Glasgow Centre from Australia, commented: "Pancreatic cancer is an inherently aggressive disease and it's often diagnosed late, which puts it a step ahead of us when we come to treat it. We need to be more ambitious and hit the disease hard and fast with new approaches. We need to diagnose these cancers swiftly so patients can get onto clinical trials which may help them."

Nurses, doctors and other medical staff will be needed to help implement these early diagnosis screening programmes in a bid to save thousands of lives every year.

Professor Biankin is currently leading a research project that aims to gain a greater understanding of how pancreatic tumours develop in the hope of finding new cures and therapies for patients suffering from this type of cancer.

The figures published as part of this research coincide with the launch of new adverts for Cancer Research UK's 'Right Now' TV advertising campaign, which shows clips of people undergoing treatment in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of attending screening appointments so the disease can be diagnosed as early as possible.

Written by James Puckle

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