Pancreatic cancer is widely regarded as having a poor outlook. Less than 5% of patients survive five years or more following a diagnosis, typically because by the time they have symptoms, see their doctor and are diagnosed, the cancer is very often quite advanced. By reducing the time to surgery, however, a new treatment plan may improve the long-term survival of individuals suffering from this disease.
A pilot treatment, carried out by researchers at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, has revealed that fast-tracking individuals with jaundice and an operable tumour into surgery, cutting waiting times from two months to two weeks, increased the number of patients receiving successful surgery.
In total, over the 12 months of the pilot treatment, 93 patients underwent surgery to remove operable pancreatic tumours with 32 of them having surgery without receiving treatment for jaundice first. Among those who had fast-tracked treatment, 97% had the treatment successfully, compared to the current average of 75% of patients where pancreatic cancer is diagnosed at an early stage and an operation is an option.
It is also worth noting that there appears to be a clear cost benefit in the fast-tracked group of patients, which was mainly due to savings made by not needing to treat jaundice before surgery, as well as reduced complications and hospital readmissions after surgery. By implementing the fast-track surgery pathway, the treatment is claimed to save the NHS around £3,200 per patient.
Ali Stunt, founder and CEO at Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: “Pancreatic cancer is a disease that offers very little hope for patients and families, and positive news is few and far between. To think this study could be rolled out across the UK, and lead to more patients having life-saving surgery, is welcome news.”
Alison Johnson, associate director in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, who specialises in oncology claims, commented: “The results of the study should certainly be seen as encouraging as prompt referral for treatment is so often crucial to a successful outcome for the patient.”
Clinical negligence solicitors at Penningtons Manches are experienced in representing people who sadly have received poor oncological care, ranging from delayed diagnosis to failure to act on test results promptly. If you have any concerns or queries about the medical care you or your family have received, please contact a member of the specialist team.