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Unmet needs identified

Physical and psychological support for patients with the deadliest common cancer are not being met according to the first ever UK survey into the experiences of people with pancreatic cancer.

The survey was conducted by Oxford Brookes University researchers in conjuction with The Picker Institute and commissioned by leading charity Pancreatic Cancer UK. The findings revealed that half of all respondents (49 per cent) had one or more unmet support needs considered either high or moderate in severity. The findings show a clear gap in the supportive care being offered to pancreatic cancer patients – a group which the charity believes has been neglected for decades.  More information and full article is here.

The survey recorded the care experiences and support needs of 274 people with pancreatic cancer.  The majority (87 per cent) reported one or more support needs, ranging from depression, fatigue, and financial pressures, to changes to appetite. Pancreatic Cancer UK is concerned that a significant proportion of these needs are not being met. It is now calling for the Government and NHS to introduce a holistic needs assessment to ensure that patients have access to personalised care immediately after diagnosis.

One survey respondent said: “I was not offered counselling though I really felt I needed it. My physical needs were very well met but my emotional needs have never been addressed. I had no idea where to go for the help I needed and had to search online for information.”

Patients reported that psychological care needs were the most likely to be unmet; almost a third said fears about the future (31 per cent) or fears about the cancer spreading (30 per cent) were not being addressed. This is extremely concerning as pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival of all common cancers – less than 7 per cent of people living for 5 years – and the second highest risk of suicide after diagnosis compared to other cancers. This risk of suicide is higher in the first six months of diagnosis and particularly for patients whose cancer had spread to other organs, underlining the importance of patients receiving specialist psychological care as early as possible.

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