Managing patients with Pancreatic Cancer

Managing patients with Pancreatic Cancer

14 November, 2019

by Dr Geoff Broomhall

A new pathway Pancreatic Cancer - Established, will be published in time for this year’s upcoming World Pancreatic Cancer Day, Thursday 21 November. Another pathway, Pancreatic Cancer - Suspected will be available in early 2020

This year will see approximately 3,599 new cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in Australia. The chances of surviving 5 years from diagnosis is low, around 9.8%, making it the 5th most common cause of cancerous death in Australia1.

This pathway is designed to provide insight into the specialist oncological interventions, and recognition of side effects from various therapies. In addition, resources are provided for assistance in counselling about prognosis, advance care planning, palliative care and psychological support. 

GPs provide the critical link in coordination of care for patients, and none more so than in established pancreatic cancer. Raising awareness of pancreatic cancer and risk factors for development, is a key role for GPs to undertake, this includes raising awareness to patients about risk factors to mitigate the risk. This new pathway attempts to include this, and GPs are encouraged to review the pathway and provide feedback. 

There is a pressing need for research to identify early markers in pancreatic cancer, and Ca 19-9 has little, if any, use as a screening tool. New markers are currently being studied2.

We thank the Pancare Foundation for advising us on the development of this pathway, a national organisation fighting pancreatic cancer and providing a variety of support services for pancreatic and other upper GI cancers3.

Early diagnosis is essential to allow for any possibility for resection. We hope World Pancreatic Cancer Day will raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and our new pathway may contribute to improved clinical outcomes and management. 

Make sure to log on to HealthPathways Melbourne on the 21 November to review the newly published Pancreatic Cancer - Established pathway. 

1. Cancer Australia:

2. Linda D. Mellby, Andreas P. Nyberg, Julia S. Johansen, Christer Wingren, Børge G. Nordestgaard, Stig E. Bojesen, Breeana L. Mitchell, Brett C. Sheppard, Rosalie C. Sears, Carl A.K. Borrebaeck. Serum Biomarker Signature-Based Liquid Biopsy for Diagnosis of Early-Stage Pancreatic Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2018; JCO.2017.77.665 DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2017.77.6658