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26 January 2017

'Monumental leap forward' in treatment of most lethal form of Cancer

Leanne Reynolds, Head of Research at Pancreatic Cancer UK, has described a recently trialled treatment as a “monumental leap forward in pancreatic cancer treatment” and urged the NHS to introduce this treatment across the UK for eligible patients.

The ESPAC-4 (European study group for pancreatic cancer) trial involved 732 patients from 92 hospitals in England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France and Sweden.

According to a report published in the Lancet, by adjusting patients’ medication so that they received a combination of both gemcitabine and capecitabine rather than only gemcitabine, survival rates over 5 years increased from 16% to 28.8%.

Lead researcher, Professor John Neoptolemos of Liverpool University said:

“This is one of the biggest ever breakthroughs prolonging survival for pancreatic cancer patients”

According to Cancer Research UK, there were 9,618 new cases of pancreatic cancer reported in the UK in 2014.

Less than 1% of sufferers are expected to survive for more than 10 years and there has been no improvement in survival rates for pancreatic cancer in the last 40 years.

Given such circumstances, the findings of this recent trial are likely to be considered particularly important – even if the treatment is only expected to help patients who receive a prompt diagnosis.


LWR IMAGEImage: Cancer Research UK

According to NHS Choices, the only way in which Pancreatic Cancer can be fully cured is if a prompt diagnosis is made and surgery follows.  Unfortunately, for too many sufferers the cancer is diagnosed too late for surgery to be possible or after it has spread to other parts of the body.

Pam Davis, solicitor at Longden Walker and Renney said,

“For the best outcomes, it is important that a patient receives prompt and appropriate treatment”

The Guardian has reported that concerns have been voiced by the NHS National Cancer Audit team about persistent “wide and unacceptable variation in standards of care” provided by NHS trusts and boards across England, Wales, Scotland and Guernsey.

For example, in cases involving the development of lung cancer, only 57% of patients are seen by a specialist lung cancer nurse, even though the NHS target is 90%.

If you are concerned that you have received inadequate medical treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us for specialist legal advice.  Longden Walker and Renney’s specialist team can be reached by telephone on 0191 566 6500, by email or by completing our short enquiry form.