On 29th September 2021, I was delighted to present a grant of £10,000 to Sophie Hunter, Senior Trust & Foundations Manager of Pancreatic Cancer UK. This sum will help fund research intended to develop a blood test to diagnose and measure pancreatic exocrine insufficiency in pancreatic cancer.
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer develops when cells in the pancreas grow out of control, forming a lump. This is often referred to as a tumour or mass. There are different types of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is the most common type. Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are less common, they behave differently and are treated differently. Quite often, pancreatic cancer does not show symptoms in the early stages but as the cancer grows, symptoms may occur. The symptoms may not be specific to pancreatic cancer, and they may come and go to begin with. This can make pancreatic cancer hard to diagnose. The most common symptoms are stomach and back pain, weight loss and indigestion.
Pancreatic Cancer UK
Pancreatic Cancer UK supports people with the condition and invests in research to combat the disease. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest common cancers but research into the condition is poorly funded. Chris MacDonald, Head of Research, at Pancreatic Cancer UK explains that when a tumour grows in the pancreas it damages the organ and stops or reduces its enzyme production, which the stomach requires to breakdown food successfully.
The result of this is that the patient becomes extremely ill, as well as being in a lot of pain. This can be treated by enzyme therapy in the form of a pill, but it is very important that the person also receives the correct dosage.
Chris explained that in terms of treatment and potential recovery from pancreatic cancer, this enzyme therapy is as important as chemotherapy, because it allows the patient to have enough strength to have stronger more effective treatment but also quicker and more accurate surgery. Obviously, if a patient’s pancreas is removed the enzyme therapy becomes part of their long-term care.
How the grant will be used
The £10,000 grant from The Hospital Saturday Fund will support research Keith Roberts is undertaking at the University of Birmingham to find a simple blood test to pinpoint the exact digestive enzyme level in pancreatic cancer patients. The new test would be able to diagnose not only an enzyme deficiency but would also ascertain the correct dosage as part of the treatment.
The research is due to start next month for 12 months, and the total cost is £72K. Pancreatic Cancer UK has already raised £25K, so with our grant the research will definitely go ahead.
The pancreatic cancer patients taking part in these trials will receive an immediate benefit as the research will mean their enzyme deficiency will be calculated correctly, improving their quality of life and signposting any potential future treatments.
Find out more about Pancreatic Cancer UK by visiting their website www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk