Pancreatic Cancer News

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The Pancreas ……….The position of the pancreas

The pancreas is part of the digestive system. It is a large gland, about six inches long and shaped like a leaf. The wide end of the pancreas is called the head. The thin end of the ‘leaf’ is  called the tail. The bit in the middle is called the body.

The first S.R. machine (Cyberknife) is available to treat NHS patients this year is at London’s Mount Vernon Hospital. In the South West, Derriford Hospital plans to provide Stereotactic Body Radiosurgery using the Novalis Tx, which provides high dosage and accuracy on small targets, in April 2012, in partnership with Brainlab LTD, establishing the Hospital as the “Hub” servicing all 7 Hospitals in our area of activity.

What does the pancreas do?The pancreas has two important jobs in the body. The first is to produce the pancreatic digestive juices. The second is to produce insulin and other hormones to do with digestion. The part of the pancreas which produces the digestive juices is called the exocrine pancreas. The part of the pancreas which produces hormones, including insulin, is called the endocrine pancreas. The cancers that develop from these two different parts of the pancreas can behave differently and can cause different symptoms.What happens if my pancreas is removed?If you have part of your pancreas taken out, you will probably still make enough insulin. But your doctor will need to keep a very close eye on your blood sugar to make sure you do not develop diabetes.If you have your pancreas completely removed, you will have to take pancreatic enzyme supplements and insulin. Because you won’t be making your own insulin, you will effectively have diabetes.

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the United States as well as around the world. Its incidence cuts across all racial and socio-economic barriers and is nearly always fatal. Despite the continued diligent efforts of the medical community, it is estimated that 25,000 people may die from this disease this year, with no end in sight. Because of the lethality of this disease and the failure of standard treatment to date, future efforts are pinned on the advances that are being made in the understanding and delineation of the genetic and molecular cell biology of cancer cells.
***  LOCAL !

A decision to move some cancer surgery from Cornwall to Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital has been referred to the Health Secretary Andy Burnham. All upper gastro-intestinal cancer surgery was to move from the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro in January. Cornwall councillors, who approved the plan in April, said they had not been given all the necessary evidence to show why the move was needed. Health bosses said treatment would not be affected in the meantime.

We will not allow any patients to be delayed or have any detriment to their treatment 
Dr Alex Mayer, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

The council’s health scrutiny committee was told by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust (PCT) that specialist cancer teams working at Derriford would improve survival rates. However, at a special meeting of the scrutiny committee on Thursday, councillors voted 11 to four in favour of a motion to ask the health secretary to examine the move. The plans have been fiercely opposed by some Cornish patient groups and doctors, who say some patients would have to travel three hours for treatment. Dr Alex Mayer, medical director Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said although the plans meant surgery would be at a specialist centre, much of their post-operative care would be carried out at local hospitals, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He added that procedures already booked would still go ahead. He said: “It’s very important that patients that are already scheduled to have their surgery have it as planned. “We will not allow any patients to be delayed or have any detriment to their treatment because of this decision.”

A similar proposal to move upper GI surgery from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to Derriford has already prompted Devon councillors to refer that decision to central government.

The NHS in England must get better at diagnosing cancers at an earlier stage if it is to continue to improve survival rates, the cancer tsar says.

Prof Mike Richards wants more focus on one-year survival rates, an indication cancer is spotted at a treatable stage. His report found huge disparity, with lung cancer sufferers in Kensington and Chelsea three times more likely to live a year than those in Herefordshire. To date, the health service has used figures based on five-year survival.

One-year survival – that is surviving a year after cancer is first spotted – is key in regard to measuring early diagnosis because death before the one-year mark is likely to be due to the disease only being identified at a late stage. Surviving to the five-year mark also requires early detection but other factors such as access to drugs and surgery become important too. The NHS is on the brink of hitting its 2010 goal of reducing deaths at the five-year mark by a fifth, based on figures from the mid-1990s.

There is no excuse for such a big difference between different areas 
Harpal KumerCancer Research UK

The recommendations by the cancer tsar were made in his second annual report following publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy in 2007.

The five-year plan promised an extra £370m to help improve care. It has led to more screening, faster drug approval, extra training and more money for radiography equipment.

His latest report, which has received the backing of the Health Secretary Andy Burnham, revealed local survival rates for the first time. Nearly all trusts failed to match the best rates elsewhere in Europe for the “big four” cancers – breast, colon, lung and prostate. There was also a great deal of variation. For example, the one-year survival rate for lung cancer patients in Herefordshire was just 15.4%, compared to Kensington and Chelsea’s rate of 43.7%. The national average of 28.1%.

Too many new cancer drugs are being turned down or restricted to small groups of NHS patients in England, the Conservatives claim.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said doctors should have a greater role in deciding which drugs to prescribe. The Party is calling for better deals with manufacturers to reduce prices. But the government’s medicines advisory body said it recommended drugs backed by clinical evidence, targeted at patients most likely to benefit. The Department of Health said in a statement that the Conservative analysis was “selective” and “misleading”. A spokesman added: “Cancer is frightening to face, tough to beat and it is important to have clear information rather than this selective way of representing data