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11 days from diagnosis to death – PCA launches campaign in Wales

Only 7.3% of pancreatic cancer patients in the UK will survive 5 years after their diagnosis. In some areas of Wales, that number is as low as 3%.   

Today (Tuesday 1st June), Pancreatic Cancer Action has launched its PC Aware Wales Campaign which aims to raise awareness of the more common symptoms of pancreatic cancer and provide accredited eLearning to health care professionals to improve early diagnosis and save lives.  

Pancreatic cancer is the 6th biggest cancer killer in Wales causing over 500 deaths a year.

Deaths like that of Rob Dursley, a fit and healthy 69-year-old electrical contracts manager from Cardiff, who within the space of 11 days went from playing football with his grandson Connor to becoming bed-bound and unable to walk. 

Robert Dursley

Rob went to the doctors on 23rd March 2020 complaining of back pain, stomach pain and bloating. He was diagnosed with suspected IBS and put on medication, which had no effect on his symptoms.

When he returned to the doctors on 15th April, a new GP asked about his family history. Rob explained that his father had died of pancreatic cancer – before this, no one had asked about his family history. 

On 17th April after visiting hospital, Rob received the call that told him not only did he have pancreatic cancer, but the cancer had already spread to his liver and lungs. He was given mere weeks to live.

In the days that followed, Rob’s health drastically declined. His daughter Beth moved in to care for him alongside his wife Gill and his son, Gareth. Rob’s wish was to spend the final days of his life in his home, surrounded by and looked after by his family.

Rob got his wish. But he sadly passed away on 29th April 2020, just 11 days after he received his original diagnosis. His family had to wait an entire year to scatter his ashes together because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

Early diagnosis is currently the only hope of patient survival. It means the pancreas can be removed which, at present, is the only cure for the disease.

Due to the ambiguous nature of pancreatic cancer symptoms, many people don’t realise they have it until it is too late.

Symptoms such as mid-back pain, upper abdominal pain, change in bowel habits and unexplained weight loss are commonly ignored by individuals and misdiagnosed by healthcare professionals. But when detected early, they drastically increase an individual’s chances of pancreatic cancer survival.

The PC Aware Campaign aims to increase public awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer in Wales while working closely with healthcare professionals to raise awareness of the disease amongst those who are in the best position to diagnose it. 

Ali Stunt, Pancreatic Cancer Action CEO said “The statistics when you receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis are harrowing – particularly in Wales. Those who are diagnosed early and in time for surgery have an increased 5-year survival rate of around 30%. Therefore our PCA Wales campaign will be doing vital work to raise awareness and to save peoples’ lives.”

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