CAMPAIGNER Lynda Murray is backing a new drive aiming to ensure faster treatment for pancreatic cancer patients after two months of avoidable delays in her dad’s care.
Lynda, 45, wants the Scottish Government to set a target to treat all patients with the disease within 20 days by 2024 after medical hold-ups allowed the aggressive cancer to spread, denying her dad, William Begley, prospect of surgery – the only potential cure.
Three-quarters of pancreatic cancer patients die within a year of diagnosis.
Lynda’s dad, from Lanarkshire, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on 18 March 2016 at Wishaw General Hospital and was considered to be a strong candidate for surgery.
However, he was bounced between four different hospitals with a lack of coordination delaying his care and it took eight weeks from diagnosis before he had his one and only chemotherapy session. Soon afterwards he was told that the cancer had spread to his liver and that no further treatment would be offered. He died in June 2016, just months before what would have been his 70th birthday and his golden wedding anniversary.
Lynda said: “When my dad was diagnosed, as a family we faced the most challenging situation ever presented to us. I had some understanding of the limited treatment options and generally poor prognosis for pancreatic cancer, but the initial diagnosis was probably as positive as it could be. We were informed that my dad was in the minority and that the local team strongly believed that he was a candidate for surgery.”
She added: “It is not rocket science to conclude that with no active treatment in place for eight weeks the tumour was growing rapidly. When we were informed that chemotherapy would be withdrawn and that there was no second line treatment option, we were devastated. My dad thought he would have got a fairer chance to fight the disease especially given the initial encouraging prognosis.”
Lynda produced a report on her dad’s experience that helped secure the first ever debate on pancreatic cancer in the Scottish Parliament last year.
New research from Pancreatic Cancer UK reveals that patients who have surgery are ten times more likely to live for five years or more than patients who do not. However, only nine per cent of people with pancreatic cancer in Scotland have surgery.
Diana Jupp, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “Too many pancreatic cancer patients are being denied their only chance of survival because they are not being treated fast enough. One in four people diagnosed with this devastating disease die within a month. It’s so ferocious that patients cannot afford to wait.
“Fast-tracking patients to surgery could potentially save lives.”