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Action needed to improve pancreatic cancer survival rates

Victoria Poole from Scarva and her grandmother Isabel Turner, who died last year from pancreatic cancer

JUST five per cent of people in Northern Ireland diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live for five years or more.

Pancreatic Cancer UK last night called for urgent action to improve the "shocking" survival rates.

It revealed that more than 200 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the north every year, but just five per cent survive at least five years.

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of the 21 most common cancers.

In a report, the charity launched a 10-point action plan to tackle the disease as part of a series of meetings with MLAs at Stormont.

David Park from Pancreatic Cancer UK said more must be done to improve survival rates.

"It’s appalling that the number of people living for just five years after diagnosis in Northern Ireland is still just five per cent and that figure has barely improved in the last 40 years," he said.

"We urgently need a public awareness campaign to spread the word about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, so that people know what to look out for.

"GPs must also receive better training about the disease and more effective tools to help them recognise the signs, because we know the sooner people are diagnosed, the longer they are likely to live.

"We also need improved care in Northern Ireland - all too often patients tell us they feel isolated and it is difficult to find the right information and support after they are diagnosed.

"We simply must tackle this disease as an absolute priority, otherwise people across Northern Ireland will continue to be diagnosed too late and die too soon."

Victoria Poole from Scarva, Co Down lost her grandmother Isabel Turner to pancreatic cancer last year.

She said she had been suffering from severe abdominal pain for a few months but when she was ultimately referred for a hospital appointment, she was told she had terminal pancreatic cancer.

"I am now really passionate about spreading the word about pancreatic cancer, because before nanny’s diagnosis I didn’t really know anything about it.

"All of us, including the public and health professionals, must find out more about, and do our bit to tackle, this dreadful disease.

"If we don’t, others will continue to tragically lose people they love too soon, like myself and my family."

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