Why did Pancreatic Cancer UK want to become NCRI partners?
For decades, too little progress has been made in pancreatic cancer compared to other cancer types. Being a member of the NCRI allows us to work in partnership with some of the biggest and most influential cancer charities and funders in the world as well as a number of government bodies. It’s a unique opportunity to learn, to collaborate and to ensure that pancreatic cancer research is on the agenda and in these partner discussions.
Membership also opens up really helpful resources like the huge cancer data sets that will enable us to channel our efforts more effectively and help inform policy and strategically direct our research but contributing is also very important for us to ensure we’re not doing things in a silo and enhancing the work of all partners with active feedback. We are now able to contribute to many strategic NCRI initiatives that are relevant across many different cancer types such as early diagnosis or cancer-related fatigue. We can get further quicker by being closer and more aligned, and by helping to prevent duplication of funding.
What are you most looking forward to as NCRI partners?
We are most looking forward to being able to work with other funders around the key cross-cancer problems, and specifically with groups looking at living with and beyond cancer. With 70 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer not receiving any active treatment, living with and beyond cancer is the common reality and we must get better at supporting those people to have a better quality of life. We must address their pain, the fatigue, dietary and phycological needs, as well as all the other problems that come with these cancer diagnoses. We really look forward to coordinating as a community, under the direction and leadership of the NCRI, to tackle these issues without duplicating work. We need to get researchers thinking more widely than their specific cancer type.
What is the most exciting opportunity in pancreatic cancer research right now?
There is some really exciting research into early diagnosis for pancreatic cancer at the moment which is gathering momentum, thanks to the cohesion and commitment of our research community. The opportunity to transform early diagnosis within the next three to four years is within our grasp: whether the answer is a simple diagnostic test, a decision-making tool for GPs, a more effective pathway or a combination of them all. It’s an exciting opportunity and working with NCRI on early diagnosis, learning from others will only speed that up and make that more effective.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for pancreatic cancer research?
Early diagnosis is the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge. With vague symptoms such as backpain, indigestion and changing bowel habits, sadly pancreatic cancer is often not detected until after it has spread. So, improving early detection and giving more patients the chance to have surgery, currently the only potential cure, is really important.