Eric Ollerenshaw column: A personal quest to try and tackle ‘a dreadful killer’

Eric Ollerenshaw MP
Eric Ollerenshaw MP

Last week in Parliament I was pleased to launch the report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pancreatic Cancer, which I chair.

Over the last 6 months our Group has been looking into the problems around early diagnosis and treatment of Pancreatic Cancer – a disease which could overtake breast cancer as the fourth biggest cancer killer in the UK by 2030.

It currently has the lowest survival rate of the 21 most common cancers.

Following evidence from over 50 submissions ranging from patients to health professionals, in addition to five oral evidence hearings, I am pleased that the Committee recognised the need to urgently change the misconceptions surrounding this disease – especially that this is a rare disease that only affects elderly men – when in fact a 3rd of all diagnoses occur in people under 65 and in both men and women alike.

This new report, Time to Change the Story: a plan of action for pancreatic cancer, has highlighted the lack of understanding of this disease.

Itsets out twelve specific recommendations which include the need to raise awareness of this disease and its symptoms, undertake a review of referral pathways and diagnostic services that are available to our GPs and carry out a comprehensive audit of treatment in order to understand why everyone diagnosed may not have the same access to high quality care.

It also noted that here in the UK we do not currently have a formal screening programme for people at higher risk of developing this cancer.So it has been recommended that a review is needed to establish whether specific patient groups should be monitored and screened to ensure early diagnosis.

Having had a personal experience of this dreadful disease, I am extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to this report, many who did so despite having to go through painful memories once more.

It is also thanks to the support of the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK that we produced this report and it was great that the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt MP was there to accept the report.

You can read the full report on my web site