Pancreatic cancer victim’s daughter backs campaign to cut waiting times

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The daughter of a man who died with pancreatic cancer after months of delays in his treatment has called for waiting times to be cut to help fight the disease.

William Begley was diagnosed with the condition in March 2016 and died just three months later after it took eight weeks from the point of diagnosis before he had a single chemotherapy session.

Daughter Lynda Murray is now backing a campaign to ensure all pancreatic cancer patients are treated within 20 days.

It is described as being the quickest killing cancer, with three in four patients diagnosed with the disease dying within a year.

Lynda, 45, said: “When my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as a family we faced the most challenging situation ever presented to us.

“I had some understanding of the limited treatment options and generally poor prognosis for pancreatic cancer but the initial diagnosis was probably as positive as it could be.

“We were informed that my dad was in the minority and that the local team strongly believed that he was a candidate for surgery.”

A family photo of William Begley
The family’s last day together with dad William Begley, centre (Lynda Murray/PA)

Following the delay, he was told the cancer had spread to his liver and no further treatment would be offered.

“My dad experienced issues with coordination of his care and, crucially, the bouncing back and forth between four different hospitals,” Lynda said.

“This had a detrimental impact on valuable time being lost and ultimately my dad’s outcome.

“It is not rocket science to conclude that with no active treatment in place for eight weeks the tumour was growing rapidly.

“When we were informed that chemotherapy would be withdrawn and that there was no second line treatment option we were absolutely devastated.

“My dad thought he would have been given a fairer chance to fight the disease, especially given the initial encouraging prognosis.”

Pancreatic Cancer UK says too many patients are being denied their only chance of survival because the extremely aggressive cancer spreads while they await treatment.

A campaign by the organisation is urging the Scottish Government to set the target for treatment at 20 days.

It calls on the introduction of accelerated treatment models for pancreatic cancer within the NHS, similar to those already in place for breast and prostate cancer.

Diana Jupp, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “The awful truth is that too many pancreatic cancer patients are being denied their only chance of survival because they are simply not being treated fast enough.

“One in four people diagnosed with this devastating disease die within a month, making it the quickest killing cancer. It’s so ferocious that patients cannot afford to wait.

“It is imperative governments across the UK recognise that pancreatic cancer is an emergency.

“In recent years, we have seen outstanding progress in other cancers such as breast and prostate and a shocking lack of progress for pancreatic.

“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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