Roy Beggs MLA is showing his support for everyone affected by pancreatic cancer in East Antrim by spreading the word about the disease this November, which is pancreatic cancer awareness month.
Roy Beggs MLA joined charities Pancreatic Cancer UK, Pancreatic Cancer Action and Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at a parliamentary event at Stormont where he met people with pancreatic cancer and their families. Roy Beggs MLA heard more about the disease, which just 5.2 per cent of patients in Northern Ireland survive for five years or more. Shockingly, survival has shown little improvement since the early 1970s. Roy Beggs MLA also heard that over 200 people are diagnosed in Northern Ireland each year.
The event also marked some significant progress for people affected by the disease in Northern Ireland. Last month it was announced that for the first time, the chemotherapy treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer, Abraxane, had been approved for routine use for eligible patients in Northern Ireland on the NHS. The charities, patients and families alike have campaigned for years to ensure Abraxane was made routinely available, because the treatment can allow eligible advanced pancreatic cancer patients to live for two more months. This precious extra time can make an immeasurable difference, because when pancreatic cancer spreads to other parts of the body, on average people will live for up to six months.
Roy Beggs MLA said: “I was shocked to hear about the survival of pancreatic cancer in Northern Ireland and the lack of progress for patients for so long. This disease sadly affects many people in my constituency, and it is a common cancer, yet we do not hear enough about it or talk about it enough. That’s why, this pancreatic cancer awareness month, I am determined to spread the word about this cancer which has been ignored for too long. I’m proud to join with the charities to do all I can to make a real difference to everyone affected.”
Ali Stunt, CEO and founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: “Pancreatic cancer is often called the Cinderella cancer because it has been ignored and underfunded for far too long. This is why we need to do all we can to raise funds and awareness to improve early diagnosis. Thank you to Roy Beggs MLA for supporting the work of the pancreatic cancer community in Northern Ireland who are working hard to change outcomes for patients.”
Maggie Blanks, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund said: “We all need to play our part in beating this disease. We’re funding pioneering research to develop ways to diagnose the disease earlier and to make existing treatments more effective, as well as finding brand new treatments. We’d like to thank Roy Beggs MLA for supporting the work of the pancreatic cancer charities who are working hard to improve patients’ chances of survival.”
Diana Jupp, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “We are delighted to have the support of Roy Beggs MLA during pancreatic cancer awareness month. While there has recently been exciting progress for people affected by pancreatic cancer in Northern Ireland with the approval of another much-needed treatment option, we still have much more to do before we transform the future for everyone facing this tough cancer. 80 per cent of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage when the one potentially life-saving treatment of surgery is not possible, and the disease attracts just 1.9 per cent of the UK cancer research budget per year. In order to tackle this disease, we must all take on pancreatic cancer together.”