NHS pancreatic cancer scans: Just 1 in 3 GPs can order scans, Pancreatic Cancer UK poll finds


Only one in three GPs can order pancreatic scans despite research showing patients who are diagnosed early are three times more likely to survive for a year, survey shows

  • 80% of patients with pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until disease spreads
  • But fewer than one in three GPs have access to CT scans needed to diagnose
  • While 20 per cent are ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ able to refer within 28 days, poll finds
  • Cancer charity says patients then hear: ‘Sorry, it’s too late – we can’t save you’

Fewer than one in three GPs have access to CT scans needed to diagnose patients with pancreatic cancer, according to a survey. 

Rapid access to such scans is essential to confirm or rule out the disease, for which there is no screening programme. But just 30 per cent of 1,000 GPs polled by charity Pancreatic Cancer UK are able to consistently refer patients with symptoms for diagnostic scans, while 20 per cent are ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ able to do so within 28 days. 

Four in five patients with pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until the disease has spread. 

Fewer than one in three GPs have access to CT scans needed to diagnose patients with pancreatic cancer, according to a survey (stock image of a doctor) 

Three quarters of GPs said they believe the Covid backlog – which means a record 1.6million people are currently trapped on the waiting list for key diagnostic tests – will damage survival rates for pancreatic cancer.

Early diagnosis is crucial to giving patients a chance at survival.

Yet currently 80 per cent of patients with pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until the disease has spread to other parts of the body, leaving them with very few treatment options.

Research shows that patients who are diagnosed following a GP referral are three times more likely to survive for one year than those diagnosed in an emergency.

Rapid access to such scans is essential to confirm or rule out the disease, for which there is no screening programme (stock image of an NHS ward)

Rapid access to such scans is essential to confirm or rule out the disease, for which there is no screening programme (stock image of an NHS ward)

Diana Jupp, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK, who carried out the poll, said: ‘”Sorry, it’s too late – we can’t save you” are the devastating words that 80 per cent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will hear this year, the same words the majority of patients and their loved ones have been hearing for the last 50 years.

‘We have hardly made any progress. We simply cannot allow this to continue, not when we have seen the game-changing impact early diagnosis research has had for breast, prostate and other common cancers.

‘We have to give doctors the innovative new tools they need to detect the warning signs earlier, so they can ensure those who need it, receive treatment as soon as possible.’

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