cancer

Life-extending pancreatic cancer drug finally wins NICE approval

The latest news from Pancreatic Cancer Action:-

“We are absolutely delighted to announce that NICE has given the green light to Abraxane®, a drug that can extend the lives of pancreatic cancer patients. This means that patients in England, who represent 83% of pancreatic cancer patients in the UK, will now be able to have access to the drug.

Trials have shown that Abraxane®, in combination with gemcitabine, can extend a patient’s life by an average of 2.1 months, although in some patients it was shown to be significantly longer – up to 2-3 years. The drug was has previously been rejected by the NHS’ health drugs rationing body.

“It is wonderful to learn that Abraxane®, a drug that can give so many patients and families extra time, has finally been made available to pancreatic cancer patients via NHS,” says Ali Stunt, founder and chief executive at Pancreatic Cancer Action.

Pancreatic Cancer Action took a leading role in campaigning for the drug to be approved, including a demonstration outside Public Health England in 2015, and highlighting the issues in the media.

Dr Stephen Falk, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust and Chair of
the NCRI Pancreatic Cancer Subgroup comments: “Today’s recommendation is welcomed by the clinical community as well as families affected by metastatic pancreatic cancer – this is a disease that has seen few therapeutic advances in recent years and life expectancy remains extremely poor. It is very reassuring that NICE has decided to recommend nab-Paclitaxel in combination with gemcitabine for the treatment of metastatic
pancreatic cancer, and I also welcome the potential of extra survival this regimen
may offer to the right patient compared to gemcitabine alone.”

The treatment of pancreatic cancer remains an area of unmet need, with around 8 in 10 cases diagnosed at a late stage in England and Scotland. Survival rates have shown minimal improvement over the past 40 years and the disease has one of the worst five-year survival rates of common cancers in England and Wales. In the 1970s, 1% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survived their disease beyond ten years, today it is still approximately 1%.

Every day in the UK there are approximately 26 new diagnoses of pancreatic cancer, as well as an estimated 24 deaths due to this disease.

Ali Stunt, Founder and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action, adds: “With an average life expectancy of
just two to six months post diagnosis, potentially life-extending treatment options are invaluable
for people with metastatic pancreatic cancer. NICE’s decision to expand available treatment
options will be welcomed by those patients and their families. We are pleased that Celgene, the
patient community and NICE have worked together to reach this positive outcome for patients.”

Results from the Phase III MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial)
demonstrated an increase in median overall survival of 1.8 months with nab-Paclitaxel in
combination with gemcitabine, when compared to gemcitabine alone in first-line treatment of
mPDAC [median overall survival (8.5 months vs. 6.7 months, respectively) (Hazard Ratio for death 0.72; 95% Confidence Interval 0.62 to 0.83; P<0.001)].6 A post-hoc updated overall survival analysis with an additional eight-month data cut-off confirms the results seen in the Phase III MPACT trial.

Remo Gujer, General Manager at Celgene UK & Ireland comments: “We are pleased to have been
able to work with NICE throughout this process to help ensure that this treatment combination
becomes accessible via the NHS to eligible patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer across
England. This is an important milestone in our journey in the fight against pancreatic cancer and
we will continue our research in this area of considerable unmet need”.

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Sugar sugar

So sweetly my heart aches for you
Infused in tea from birth
The processed legacy of the modern era

Daily you inflame my body
Destroying all the good I eat
Following Ella with good intentions
My will power is torn to shreds
Addictive like heroin
Slowly slowly I kill myself by many names
Cancer, diabetes, obesity,

WHO advises less than 25 grams a day?
With APPs tracking every gram
A new day with focused new resolve
So wanting to abandon this sweet toothed poison
All undone by a creme egg well before 12
My body burns in the freezing night
A riot of inflammation and immunity

Sugar tax petition signed
Yet my saccharide hypocrisy remains
Killing myself sweetly with mono and di(e)

Pancreatic cancer – survival rate unchanged in 40 years!

Last week on World Cancer Day, Cancer Research UK released the latest statistics showing that cancer deaths in the UK have fallen by almost 10% over the last 10 years. In addition, the 10 year survival rates from some cancers have significantly improved since 1971, all of which is positive news.

However this is not the case for pancreatic cancer where the rate of people dying from pancreatic cancer has not only increased by 8% but the 10 year survival rate still remains BELOW 1%,  the same as 40 years ago, which quite frankly is appalling.

Pancreatic Cancer has the lowest survival of all 21 common cancers

The general consensus for the poor survival rate is that it is often diagnosed too late, as there are few symptoms. However there is also another factor which is the lack of funding for research into pancreatic cancer which lags well behind that of other cancers.

“While funding for pancreatic cancer research has increased marginally over the past 10 years it still accounts for only one per cent of overall research funding and only two per cent of site-specific funding. This is despite it being the fifth largest cause of cancer death in the UK.”
Pancreatic Cancer Action.

I know that this will change, it has to, because as research into others cancers results in earlier diagnosis, treatment and longer life expectancy then at some point in time the spotlight will eventually be on the incredible low survival rate of those with pancreatic cancer.

Also I believe that the incidence of pancreatic related illness, like Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis, Cancer and Diabetes will continue to increase.  Why?  Because the pancreas is the one organ that regulates sugar levels in the blood and also the only organ that digests fats. So as our diets continue to increase in fat and sugar, namely in processed foods, so to will the stress on the pancreas.

If you want to show your pancreas some love try to moderate your consumption of sugar, fat and alcohol or at least take the time to read the label on 1 or 2 ready meals in your trolley, whilst waiting at the checkout, starting with what you buy the most. You may be surprised by their contents, I was and I had thought that I was a healthy eater.

References;
Cancer Research UK, article and stats on cancer death rates
Funding statistics for cancer research, from Pancreatic Cancer Action