Northern Ireland news

Co Down woman who lost grandmother to pancreatic cancer backs calls for condition to be treated as 'cancer emergency'

Pictured at Stormont delivering the Pancreatic Cancer UK 'Demand Faster Treatment' campaign petition are Andrea Kearns and Victoria Poole

A CO Down woman who lost her grandmother to pancreatic cancer has backed calls for the condition to be treated as a "cancer emergency".

Victoria Poole from Scarva is supporting a campaign by Pancreatic Cancer UK to "make sure that people with the disease receive treatment within 20 days of diagnosis" by 2024.

Around 250 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Northern Ireland every year with just six per cent living for five years or more.

Startling figures also reveal that three in four patients with the condition die within a year of diagnosis - making it the fastest killing cancer.

Ms Poole's grandmother Isabel Turner died in June 2014, just seven months after being diagnosed.

She recently joined representatives and supporters from Pancreatic Cancer UK at Stormont to deliver its 'Demand Faster Treatment' campaign petition to the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly.

It was signed by more than 100,600 people.

It also comes as the Department of Health recently announced it is to commission a new cancer strategy for Northern Ireland, which Ms Poole helped campaign for in her role as a Cancer Research UK campaigns ambassador.

It is hoped the strategy will identify new ways of working to secure further advances across cancer care, but its implementation would be a decision for a future Stormont health minister.

"Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed late and progresses quickly," said Ms Poole.

"Too many people never receive active treatment which means they don't get a chance to fight the disease and live longer.

"That's why I'm supporting PCUK's call for UK governments to treat pancreatic cancer as a cancer emergency, and to make sure that people with the disease receive treatment within 20 days of diagnosis.

"The 100,600 petition signature received give us 100,600 reasons to hope.

"I very much welcome the department of health's recent announcement commissioning a new cancer strategy here. However, time is very precious when it comes to our health policy especially were people's lives are concerned.

"As health is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland it is critical that a functioning government is restored as soon as possible so that policy progress can be made here.

"Cancer won't wait."

Diana Jupp from Pancreatic Cancer UK said "too many pancreatic cancer patients are being denied their only chance of survival because they are simply not being treated fast enough".

"The fact that 100,000 people have joined us in taking a stand shows just how close this issue is to the hearts of people across the UK. It's imperative we see urgent action from government," she said.

"We owe it to all those affected by pancreatic cancer to be more ambitious and make sure that everyone is treated within 20 days of diagnosis."

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