January Cause for the month

The January Cause for the Month changes yearly and is suggested by a church member and agreed by the Church Meeting. The member suggesting the cause is responsible for the publicity.

In January 2022, the cause is:

Pancreatic Cancer UK

Taking on the deadliest common cancer Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of all common cancers, with more than half of all people with the disease dying within three months of diagnosis. Just 7% of people survive for five years. Tragically, these appalling statistics have not improved in 50 years. Why is it so deadly?The disease’s vague symptoms – which include back pain, indigestion, tummy pain and weight-loss – mean it often goes undetected until after it has spread to other areas of the body. Unlike other cancers, no screening or early detection tests exist to help doctors diagnose the disease. Sadly, around 80% of people are diagnosed when the cancer is at an advanced stage, when it is too late for lifesaving treatment. Surgery to remove the tumour is the only potentially curative treatment for the disease.

Early diagnosis is essential to give people the best chance of survival. However, public awareness of the disease remains worryingly low. New polling of more than 2,000 people for the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK released this November showed that just 8% of the public know the symptoms of the disease. Pancreatic Cancer UK recommends that anyone experiencing one or more of the most common symptoms for more than four weeks should contact their GP. Anyone with jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin) should immediately go to A&E. Jaundice is the ‘red flag’ symptom for pancreatic cancer.GPs who suspect the disease can refer patients for ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans. However, nearly half of all pancreatic cancer patients are currently diagnosed via an emergency (such as through visiting A&E). The impact is significant: one-year survival for patients diagnosed through a GP referral is three times higher. The need for more research While there has been significant progress in improving outcomes for people with other types of cancer, pancreatic cancer has been left behind. The disease has been underfunded for decades, and currently just 3% of all the money invested in cancer research annually is spent specifically on the disease. Pancreatic Cancer UK is determined to transform the future for the 10,500 people diagnosed with the disease each year across the country. The charity invests in world class projects to find new and better treatments, to deliver early diagnosis and to develop the next generation of pancreatic cancer scientists, encouraging them to devote their careers to taking on the disease. Among its most exciting projects is vital work to develop the first ever simple test for pancreatic cancer. The aim of the test is to help doctors determine which of the many thousands of patients they see each year with vague symptoms has a common, non-serious health condition, and which need an urgent referral for suspected pancreatic cancer. The charity has invested £750,000 in the project, a collaboration between leading scientists from across the UK. It is showing real promise, with the test already proven to be 95% accurate in early trials. Pancreatic Cancer UK hope it will be ready for use by the NHS within the next five years.Support is only a phone call awayThe charity is here for anyone affected by the disease – including the family and friends of people undergoing treatment. It runs the Pancreatic Cancer UK Support Line, the only dedicated service of its kind for people affected by the disease. It is free to call, confidential, staffed entirely by specialist nurses. Pancreatic Cancer UK’s work is made possible only thanks to the generosity of the public. More information can be found at: https://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/

Gareth W Phillips