Pancreatic cancer has been one of the top causes of cancer death in Australia, with the five-year survival rate of the disease being at a low 8.7 per cent. For this reason, it is one of the Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) for cancer that all Victorian Primary Health Networks are focusing on this year.
Pancreatic cancers are rarely seen in general practice, with diagnosis usually occurring in the acute sector.
The majority of patients present with non-specific symptoms or are asymptomatic until advanced stages of the disease process.
Building an awareness of symptoms may provide an opportunity for general practitioners to improve patient outcomes through earlier referrals.
Some of the key messages for GPs are:
- There is a demonstrated improved life expectancy with early referral to palliative care services. The OCP for pancreatic cancer recommends that referral to palliative care should be timely and appropriate, based on need rather than prognosis.
- There is a demonstrated link between low SES and worse survival outcomes.
- Getting the right treatment is crucial.
This short video explains the key findings from the Victorian Pancreatic Tumour Summit and the impact of the three points above: