National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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Demand faster treatment: Why people with pancreatic cancer simply cannot afford to wait

Blog posted by: Anna Jewell, director of services, Research and Influencing, Pancreatic Cancer UK, 08 May 2019.

Shared Learning Award 2019 finalist

Pancreatic cancer has vague symptoms – back pain, weight loss, fatigue – by the time it does arouse suspicion treatment options and time are usually desperately limited. Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer with one in four people dying within a month.

Even people who are diagnosed at an early stage often will not receive curative surgery until it is too late, which is the only lifesaving treatment. This is why we consider pancreatic cancer an emergency.

Pancreatic Cancer UK responded through our Clinical Pioneer Award, funding a team in University Hospital Birmingham to develop a ground-breaking fast track surgery model.

The team at the University Hospital Birmingham showed that through the fast track pathway people could receive surgery within just 16 days, rather than 65 days for those who first underwent stenting. Stenting is used to relieve jaundice before a patient can have surgery to remove the pancreatic tumour.

The fast track pathway leaves out the stenting procedure, which allows more people to receive surgery directly, avoiding complications associated with stenting and with a total cost saving of £3,200 per person for the NHS.

Fast track surgery was the cornerstone of our recent Demand Faster Treatment campaign, which was backed by over 100,000 people showing the strong public support for faster treatment.

NICE’s recommendation for fast track surgery and inclusion in the quality standard is essential to ensure rollout across the UK, which we believe, could benefit more than 1,000 people every year, allowing more people to have access to surgery, and the chances of survival are 10 times greater.[1]

The recognition of the success of the fast track surgery model in the NICE Shared Learning Awards shows how innovative clinical pioneering work combined with a national campaign can start to change care and outcomes across the UK.

[1] London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, unpublished data


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