Stewart Jackson, Member of Parliament for Peterborough, yesterday spoke in a Parliamentary debate about pancreatic cancer awareness, diagnosis and research. The debate had been called after an e-petition organised by Mrs Maggie Watts – whose husband died from pancreatic cancer back in 2009 – reached the necessary 100,000 signatures to trigger a debate in Parliament.
Maggie and more than 50 pancreatic campaigners attended Parliament to listen to the debate and to meet with MPs and others to raise awareness. The debate was also attended by Julie Hesmondhalgh, whose Coronation Street character Hayley Cropper died after battling pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK. Every day, 24 people are diagnosed with the disease and they currently face a chance of survival of less than 4%, the lowest survival rate of all 21 common cancers. Chronic late diagnosis results in many patients being diagnosed at a point when the cancer has spread to other parts of their body and when curative surgery is no longer an option. Despite being responsible for 5.2% of cancer deaths in the UK, only £5.2 million, representing just 1% of the National Cancer Research Institute’s partner organisations’ 2013 site-specific budgets, was spent on pancreatic cancer research.
Speaking after the debate, Stewart said:
“I was pleased to be able to take part in the pancreatic cancer debate. Pancreatic cancer is a disease that kills far too many people and for which very few treatment options are available. More needs to be done to improve survival outcomes.
“In particular we need a more joined up approach to increase the quantity and quality of research into pancreatic cancer and I urged the Minister to ensure the Government took a lead in this area. We also need to see more done to improve GP education and provide better diagnostic tools and faster referral systems to help diagnose cases of pancreatic cancer – and other cancers for that matter – more quickly.”
Alex Ford, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK commented:
“Sadly, mortality rates for pancreatic cancer continue to rise at the same time as the number of deaths from other types of cancer are falling. We need to see more work done to boost awareness of the disease, improve early diagnosis and treatment, and increase the amount of research into pancreatic cancer. The debate in Parliament was detailed, knowledgeable and will definitely help further the pancreatic cancer cause. We are grateful to Stewart and all the other MPs who took part.”