Pancreatic cancer

Thank you for contacting me about pancreatic cancer.

Every effort is being made to improve early diagnosis and to drive up survival rates for pancreatic cancer.

In 2019, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published new clinical guideline on pancreatic cancer, providing guidance on diagnosis, monitoring those with an inherited high risk, as well as management of the disease. I am confident that this guidance will ensure quicker and more accurate diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, as well as faster referral to treatment.

Given the low survival rates for pancreatic cancer, research into new treatments and ways to diagnose this cancer early are vital. £882 million has been spent on cancer research since 2010 through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), with annual spending on cancer research up by over £35 million since 2010. The UK Government invests £1 billion per year in health and care research through the NIHR. I also recognise the indispensable contribution made by charities in driving forward research into cancer, with Cancer Research UK alone spending £17 million on pancreatic cancer over the last financial year.

Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) is an important and valuable treatment that can help those who suffer with pancreatic cancer manage the symptoms of problems with digestion and cope better with treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery. This can have a significant impact on quality of life. Therefore, I am glad that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines recommend that PERT should be considered for people with both operable and inoperable pancreatic cancer. I want to reassure you that the NHS has commissioned an audit into pancreatic cancer, that will look to reduce variations in treatment, and they continue to work with Prostate Cancer UK to raise awareness of PERT, including sharing guidance with Cancer Alliances.

These measures form just part of the NHS’s ambitious wider strategy to improve cancer outcomes and save 55,000 lives per year by 2028. Following the announcement of a £33.9 billion cash increase in the budget of NHS England, I am more confident than ever that the cancer strategy will achieve this aim.