Stevenage pancreatic cancer survivor calls for action to improve patients' prognosis

PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 November 2019

Stevenage's Roy Bowdery is campaigning to improve the prognosis for pancreatic cancer patients after defying the appalling odds and surviving the killer disease for five years. Picture: Courtesy of Pancreatic Cancer UK

Stevenage's Roy Bowdery is campaigning to improve the prognosis for pancreatic cancer patients after defying the appalling odds and surviving the killer disease for five years. Picture: Courtesy of Pancreatic Cancer UK

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A cancer survivor is backing a campaign for the government to devise an action plan to improve the prognosis for people with pancreatic cancer.

Roy Bowdery, who lives in Stevenage, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April 2014.

He had been back and forth to his GP for months with stomach pains, but medication for stomach cramps and constipation did not relieve his symptoms.

Turning 60, he qualified for a bowel cancer screening programme so was referred for a colonoscopy and CT scan.

Roy said: "The colonoscopy came back clear, but when my wife and I went to get the results of the CT scan at Lister Hospital we were told they'd found a tumour in my pancreas.

"We both fell apart outside the doctor's door. We had been told the most earth-shattering news."

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Roy had the tumour removed in a 10-hour operation, followed by six months of chemotherapy.

Currently 93 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer die within five years of diagnosis, with 25 per cent dying within a month.

Roy, now 65, defied the appalling odds. Speaking during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, he said: "I do feel lucky and grateful. It's such an aggressive disease and this country has some of the lowest survival figures in Europe. Many people aren't even eligible for surgery, they're diagnosed too late.

"This disease is poorly researched and funded compared to other cancers. That's why I'm campaigning. We urgently need a test to improve early detection."

Roy is calling for people to back Pancreatic Cancer UK's campaign Demand Survival Now by signing a petition calling on the government to produce a national plan focused on increased research investment; delivering better, faster care; and raising public awareness of pancreatic cancer symptoms.

The charity says pancreatic cancer survival has not improved for more than 50 years. It says just 2.1 per cent of the UK cancer research budget is spent on pancreatic cancer, no screening or early detection tests exist, and its vague symptoms - such as back pain, indigestion and weight loss - mean it often goes undetected until it has spread.

Diana Jupp, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: "Roy should be the norm, not the exception, but decades of underfunding and inaction from governments have made tackling pancreatic cancer a cancer emergency like no other."

To sign the petition, visit demandsurvivalnow.pancreaticcancer.org.uk

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