Pancreatic 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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New Recipe Book from Pancreatic Cancer Action

The latest news from Pancreatic cancer action:-

“Pancreatic Cancer Action has launched a recipe book to help alleviate one of the key side effects of pancreatic cancer: the inability to maintain weight and a nutritional balance. The book was developed by University College Cork and is available to patients, carers, hospitals, pancreatic cancer specialist centres and cancer support facilities to order free of charge from Pancreatic Cancer Action.

Pancreatic cancer affects a patient’s ability to digest and absorb vital nutrients from food, which can cause pain, changes in bowel habit, decreased appetite and nausea. These symptoms can put patients at risk of suffering from malnutrition.

Ali Stunt, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: “Good nutrition is a crucial part of any pancreatic cancer treatment programme, as so often the symptoms of the disease and side effects of treatment can make eating a real struggle.”

Nourishing your Body during pancreatic cancer treatment features over 80 recipes, which, using scientific evidence, have been developed by dietitians and chefs so that they are nutritious and can be easily tolerated.

Author Aoife Ryan, who is a dietitian at University College Cork in Ireland, said: “Our team of oncology dietitians and chefs, have worked hard over the last year to translate the nutritional advice for people with pancreatic cancer that are losing weight into simple, nourishing and enjoyable meal ideas.“

The production and distribution of the book is courtesy of a grant from the Rosenfield Family. Ali says: “I’d like to say thank you to the Rosenfield family who kindly sponsored the book in memory of Kim Rosenfield, who sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer last year.”

If you are interested in ordering a copy, you can visit http://www.pancreaticanceraction.org, call 0303 040 1770 or e-mail enquiries@panact.org.”

Confidence in 1,000 miles

Like many things in life confidence is only found through practice. Just knowing that what ever I do repeatedly will get easier, keeps me going. Whether that be making a skirt or cycling, in both cases practice improves skill, understanding and technique, and with this comes confidence.

When I first got on a road bike in May, I was partly terrified and partly exhilarated. There was such a sense of freedom of being able to cycle at a moderate speed. But, for me there is an additional anxiety of about falling off, not that I just don’t want to injure myself, but also not having a spleen, means fighting infection and recovering from illness and injury takes longer.

But now that I have been cycling for oooooh almost 4 whole months, I can see how my confidence has built, firstly it was all about the bike. Things like getting used to the gears, I often ran out of gears going uphill, no idea how I managed to do that, but I did.

Next it was the shoes, most road cyclists used clipless shoes, which ironically clip on to the pedal, however before the clipless shoes, cyclist used straps which went over the pedal to position the shoes on the pedal for better purchase. I started off with regular pedals and trainers, then added straps to the pedals, then graduated into rigid sole shoes. I still haven’t tried the clipless shoes but am sure I will be in them for next spring.

Flying downhill at speed was fantastic until I learnt that most accident happen going downhill, so I am a bit more cautious now, not much, just enough to balance exhilaration with safety.

Sooner than expected I found myself able to go longer distances, going out on Sundays – working up an appetite and stopping for brunch before returning home – a wonderful way to enjoy the day. Having used Sunday’s to develop stamina for distances I then used my weekly rides to improve my speed. I have been using an app Map My Ride which has been a great motivational tool for me.

Finally I had to work on the hills – it looks so easy when watching Le Tour de France, even the mountain stages. I had no idea how tough it was going up even small inclines, but it’s all about practice and persistence – and so I have kept going until finally I made it up the highest local hill – I would have celebrated when I reached the top, but breathing seemed somewhat more important!

I had never before appreciated road surfaces, there are just to many different types, some are a joy, others soul destroying – in which case it’s usually time for a sharp exit.

So finally after 4 months and 1,000 miles I am ready to cycle from London to Brighton, on Sunday. It will be my longest ride  at 54 miles, but I am feeling confident and ready for the challenge, anyway I have to finish as I am being generously sponsored to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action in memory of my Mum, Joanna Roe who died of pancreatic  cancer aged 72.

 

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