Two years after the first ever parliamentary debate on pancreatic cancer, Scunthorpe County MP Nic Dakin is still working to improve the lives of people with the disease, which 781 people in Yorkshire and the Humber are diagnosed with each year.
After losing her husband to pancreatic cancer, September 2014 saw local Scunthorpe resident Maggie Watts submit a petition calling for better awareness, swifter diagnosis and more research funding for pancreatic cancer, which achieved more than 106,000 signatures.
The petition led to the first ever debate about pancreatic cancer in parliament, which was co-sponsored by Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pancreatic Cancer and local MP, Nic Dakin.
Two years on the APPG, spearheaded by Chair Nic Dakin, continues to work tirelessly to raise the profile of pancreatic cancer. Since its formation in 2012, the APPG has published two reports setting out a series of recommendations aiming to keep pancreatic cancer high on the political agenda and to influence policy to improve the lives of patients.
The most notable of the recommendations implemented so far has been the development of a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guideline and Quality Standard of pancreatic cancer care by medical professionals. The guideline will positively impact on patient experience and treatment and set a standard that anyone with pancreatic cancer should be able to expect, it is expected to be published in January 2018.
The APPG has also recommended that there is still a need for a significant increase in research funding for pancreatic cancer. While funding levels have increased from £7 million in 2014 to £10 million in 2016, only 1.4% of total cancer research spend is dedicated to the disease.
Nic Dakin said that while he has seen an improvement in the awareness and recognition of pancreatic cancer in the past two years, there is still plenty that needs to be achieved.
“Pancreatic cancer survival rates have barely improved for the past 40 years, with only a shocking five per cent of patients living for five years or more after diagnosis. For the 781 Yorkshire and the Humber residents who are diagnosed with the disease each year, we need to continue campaigning for better access to treatment, support and an increased investment in research. We are very proud of what we have achieved so far, but remain determined to continue working to make a real difference to people with pancreatic cancer and their families.” Mr Dakin said.
Head of Policy and Campaigns at Pancreatic Cancer UK, Preth Rao, said the determined campaigning of the APPG has been crucial to ensure pancreatic cancer remained on the political agenda and in the forefront of people’s minds.
“Pancreatic cancer is tough to diagnose, treat, research and survive, but we are taking it on by campaigning for change; for better care, treatment and research. The involvement of the APPG has been paramount in helping us to be a voice for everyone affected by this dreadful disease. It’s only by bringing together MPs, people with the disease and their families, researchers, and healthcare professionals across the UK that we can truly on this disease.” Ms Rao said.
Nic Dakin attended the most recent APPG meeting took place on September 14 and focused on pancreatic cancer treatments.