Pancreatic Cancer

– in the Scottish Parliament on 1st November 2017.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-07829, in the name of Clare Adamson, on pancreatic cancer awareness month. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes that November 2017 marks Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and that 16 November 2017 is World Pancreatic Cancer Day; congratulates all of the pancreatic cancer charities and their supporters on working tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition; notes that this year’s campaign, Demand Better, For Patients, For Survival; encourages action to increase awareness of the disease by, for example, wearing purple, lighting up local landmarks, using purple in social media posts and profiles, sharing knowledge with friends and family and getting involved in a wide variety of fundraising events over the year; understands that pancreatic cancer is one of the least survivable cancers and is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in Scotland; notes that there is currently no screening or early detection test for pancreatic cancer, although some are in development, which is progress that needs encouragement since early diagnosis can improve a patient’s chance of survival by ensuring early access to treatment; appreciates that the need for early diagnosis makes awareness and knowledge of the disease all the more important, and welcomes all efforts in this cause.

Photo of Clare Adamson Clare Adamson Scottish National Party

I thank members who will speak in what I believe is the first members’ business debate on pancreatic cancer awareness month, and I thank those who supported the motion that secured the debate. I welcome to the gallery the ambassadors for Pancreatic Cancer UK, sufferers of pancreatic cancer and their family members and friends.

This is the start of a month of activities to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer. I am by no means an expert on the issue, but over the past three years I have been privileged to meet pancreatic cancer ambassadors, families and sufferers, and many professionals who dedicate their lives to supporting treatment of and research into the disease.

I thank my parliamentary assistant, Nicola Mcmanus, who first sparked my interest in and informed me about the disease. Nicola’s mother Cathy’s journey through the disease is all too familiar and heartbreaking. Having had her symptoms mistaken for many less-serious conditions, it was her referral to a diabetes consultant that first raised the possibility of pancreatic cancer. Nicola’s mum was then already at stage 4 of the disease, and died a few short months later.

I want to mention the family of William Begley of Shotts, who also died very shortly after diagnosis in the late stages of the disease. Mr Begley’s family have been very keen to raise the learning points and improvements for all levels of care from their father’s, and their, experience of the journey through pancreatic cancer, and they have worked constructively and respectfully to have their concerns raised. Although I did not know Mr Begley, I have met his daughters and they are living proof that he was an exceptional father and role model and, in their words, “a fair man”.

I am sure that everyone in the chamber will have been touched in some way by this cruel and unforgiving cancer. The theme of this year’s pancreatic cancer awareness month campaign is “Demand Better. For Patients. For Survival”. That is important because the survival rate is one of the poorest for any cancer. There is no early detection or screening available for pancreatic cancer, although early detection might be available in the future; research is currently being done on that.

It is worth mentioning and airing the most common symptoms. They include stomach and back ache, unexplained weight loss, indigestion and changes to bowel habits, including floating faeces. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, jaundice—yellowing of the skin, or itchy skin—feeling and being sick, difficulty swallowing and recently diagnosed diabetes. It is really important that people understand that those symptoms might all indicate the possibility of pancreatic cancer, and that people who are suffering from any of them should seek the advice of their general practitioner.

I mentioned that research on early detection is under way, but I also want to highlight some of the world-leading work that is being done in Scotland today with the support of Cancer Research UK. Cancer Research UK has identified pancreatic cancer as one of its four priorities because of unmet need, poor survival rates and limited improvement in outcomes in the past decade. It has invested £10 million in its precision panc project, which is being led by Professor Andrew Biankin at Cancer Research UK’s Beatson institute for cancer research in Glasgow. Precision panc aims to speed up the recruitment and enrolment of pancreatic cancer patients in clinical trials that are right for individual patients. The researchers will use the genetic profile of each cancer to offer patients and their doctors a menu of trials that might benefit them. The three trials that are currently planned as part of precision panc will be led by the Cancer Research UK clinical trials unit at the Beatson west of Scotland cancer centre. In centres around the United Kingdom, it will recruit a total of 658 patients, who will be helped on to suitable clinical trials that are ready, up and running.

This is all about raising awareness of pancreatic cancer, which is very important, because in 2015 812 people in Scotland were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, of them, 749 have died from the disease. Its five-year survival rate is less than 7 per cent across the UK, which is the worst five-year survival rate of the 20 most common cancers. That figure has hardly changed in the past 40 years, and unless action is taken now, pancreatic cancer is set to become the fourth-biggest killer cancer in the UK by 2026.

I am therefore pleased that the Scottish Government has committed to funding the precision panc initiative and to supporting the University of Glasgow, which aims to personalise treatment of pancreatic cancer, speed up scientific discovery, and improve survival rates. However, that is just the start of what is needed. Pancreatic cancer has attracted only 1.9 per cent of the UK’s cancer research funding, and many of the people who are in the gallery tonight want to see that being changed through their fundraising activities and recognition of how important research into the cancer is.

This month, colleagues from across the chamber and everyone else can do their bit to highlight pancreatic cancer. We want to light Scotland up in purple; we want our towns to highlight historic buildings by lighting them up in purple, especially around 16 November, which is world pancreatic cancer day. I also want friends and colleagues to consider coming along on 29 November to the parliamentary event for Pancreatic Cancer UK, at which they will be able to meet many of the clinicians and researchers who are trying to improve outcomes of the disease.

I ask everyone to wear purple, tell people why they are wearing purple, and talk about the disease and its symptoms. It is only by being open and talking with one another that we can care for one another and ensure that we begin to tackle pancreatic cancer.

Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

I start by congratulating Clare Adamson on securing this important debate. As a co-convener of the Parliament’s cross-party group on cancer, I am pleased that we are having this debate during pancreatic cancer awareness month. As Clare said, it is great to see so many members wearing purple. The fact that the parliamentary tie is purple makes it a great opportunity for all the gentlemen in Parliament to spend the next month highlighting the concerns. I look forward to lots of purple being displayed on local landmarks and across social media, as we aim to increase knowledge and understanding of pancreatic cancer.

I strongly agree with what Clare Adamson said about the critical importance of raising awareness of pancreatic cancer as we focus on early diagnosis, which can improve a patient’s chances of survival and help to make much-needed progress in improving the very low survival rates, which have remained at the same level for the past four decades.

It is a massive concern that 80 per cent of people who have pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage, and that those who are diagnosed are nearly six times less likely to live for five years than are people who are diagnosed with most other types of cancer in Scotland today.

I am pleased that, in 2017, we will see a potential step change in the future treatment of pancreatic cancer, following the biggest-ever investment in research into the disease in the UK by Cancer Research UK—the £10 million that has been mentioned. Precision panc is an ambitious programme of research that seeks to uncover the molecular profile of individual patients who have pancreatic cancer, learn more about the disease and pave the way for patients to enter clinical trials in a way that matches their tumour biology to the type of treatment. That world-leading research is being led by Professor Andrew Biankin and his team at the University of Glasgow. I know that we all wish them great success in that.

With some experts now warning that pancreatic cancer could become one of the UK’s top four killer cancers by 2026, the outcome of precision panc is hugely important to us all across the United Kingdom. Clare Adamson’s motion rightly commends the role of pancreatic cancer charities, and I join her in praising all of them for the role that they play.

Pancreatic Cancer UK is actively involved in our cancer CPG and it does excellent work in raising the profile of issues around the disease. I pay particular tribute to two stakeholders who are involved in Pancreatic Cancer UK—Lynda Murray and Kim Rowan—who attend the CPG and have direct experience of the impact of pancreatic cancer on their family members and friends. In preparing for today’s debate, they highlighted the struggles of family members who have lost loved ones to the disease. Lynda was incredibly brave in producing a report on her late father William Begley’s journey through pancreatic cancer. I was pleased to be able to forward a copy of the report to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, and I have asked some follow-up questions to suggest recommendations and improvements to care in Scotland.

Families and friends of loved ones lost to pancreatic cancer have made it very clear that significant improvements are required in order to improve current treatment of people in Scotland who have the cancer. Specifically, they would like the Scottish Government to take a lead in developing a multidisciplinary diagnostic centre approach to pancreatic cancer; to consider targets for survival rates for less-survivable cancers such as pancreatic cancer; and to be ready to copy the fast-track surgery model that is currently being piloted south of the border, if the evidence points to its being a success. They also want an end to delays in receiving magnetic resonance imaging scans and a reduction in waiting times for chemotherapy treatment for patients who have suspected and diagnosed pancreatic cancer. I would be grateful if, in closing the debate, the minister will comment on where the Scottish Government is on those matters.

I very much welcome today’s debate and the opportunity that it gives Parliament to focus for the first time on pancreatic cancer. I hope that the debate and pancreatic cancer awareness month will help to get more people in communities across our country talking about the disease, its potential symptoms and early diagnosis. Much progress needs to be made in the years ahead, so I hope that MSPs from across the chamber will continue to speak about the issue and keep pressure on the Scottish Government to help to improve early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

Photo of Maree Todd Maree Todd Scottish National Party

I thank Clare Adamson for bringing this important topic to the chamber. I am pleased to contribute to the debate, and I am hopeful that together we will help raise awareness of the disease.

Pancreatic cancer charities have been working tirelessly to make their “Demand better. For patients. For survival.” campaign known throughout the UK. The colour purple is integral to spreading knowledge and awareness of the cancer. I had hoped to wear a purple jacket today, but I had a laundry crisis—my apologies. [

Laughter

.] Charities are using the phrase “Turn it purple” to encourage people to get involved in the awareness campaign and, in November last year, we saw the Kelpies, along with many other landmarks, turned purple as part of the campaign.

Over the past 40 years, improvements in prevention, detection and treatment have revolutionised cancer medicine, and survival has doubled. However, as we have heard, progress has not advanced equally for all forms of the disease. Pancreatic cancer has not seen much improvement at all, and the five-year survival rates are frankly dire at just over 3 per cent in Scotland. It is the worst survival outcome for any of the 21 most common cancers, and the figure has not improved for almost 50 years.

The biggest problem is that 80 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when it is too late for the surgery that currently is the only potential cure. Indeed, most patients die within three to six months following diagnosis. I am very grateful to Cancer Research UK for its pioneering precision panc project—which, as we have heard, aims to speed up recruitment and enrolment of pancreatic cancer patients to clinical trials that are right for the individual patient—and for its tripling of investment in research. I really hope that its efforts pay dividends.

Pancreatic cancer is not a rare disease; it is currently the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK and, if trends continue, it is, as Miles Briggs has pointed out, set to overtake breast cancer as the fourth most common cancer killer by 2030, partly because survival rates are improving for everything else. There is currently no screening or early detection test for pancreatic cancer, although some are in development. As with all cancer, early detection improves outcomes.

Most of us do not even know where our pancreas is; it is tucked in round about your liver and stomach. There is also research evidence that we cannot recognise the symptoms of this disease, so, like Clare Adamson, I will go over them. The first noticeable symptoms of pancreatic cancer are often pain in the back or stomach area, which might come and go at first and which is often worse when one lies down or after one has eaten; unexpected weight loss; and jaundice. The most obvious sign of jaundice is yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, but it also turns your urine dark yellow or orange and your stools pale.

Some risk factors have been identified. There is not much that people can do to change some of those risk factors—such as their genes—but around one in three cases of pancreatic cancer is associated with using cigarettes or cigars or chewing tobacco. As ever, I feel obliged to encourage anyone out there who is still smoking to try to stop and to keep on trying until they do so. Stopping smoking is the single most effective thing that a person can do to improve their health.

I, too, have been contacted by Lynda Murray and Kim Rowan, who have done a great job. They asked me to participate in this debate in order to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer in the general population, the medical community and among decision makers. In particular, Lynda wrote very movingly about her dad’s experience of care and his journey through pancreatic cancer. I have had a close friend affected. I hope that I have done the issue justice for all of them and that our efforts will lead to improvements in research, detection and care in future.

Photo of Tom Mason Tom Mason Conservative

I am profoundly grateful to Clare Adamson for lodging the motion. Too many families in Scotland are affected by cancer, too many lives are turned upside down by it, and too many people suffer pain and loss because of it. No doubt all of us in the Parliament know people who have been affected in some way by cancer. I have personal experience of it; I was successfully treated for prostate cancer. That journey was not pleasant, and I know that pancreatic cancer is even worse.

Unfortunately, because of a lack of symptoms until the late stage and the difficulties in detection and diagnosis, pancreatic cancer remains among the most aggressive types of cancer and one of the most difficult to treat. Mortality rates remain among the worst, with five-year survival figures being in the low single digits. The world pancreatic cancer coalition has estimated that, by 2020, we will see 418,000 new diagnoses worldwide. It is clear that we must do more.

Members across the chamber will be familiar with the many statistics that illustrate the extent of the task ahead. Many of those statistics have already been mentioned. However, instead of going through each of them individually, I want to talk about the human side of the problem.

I pay tribute to pancreatic cancer survivors, who have battled courageously in the face of overwhelming odds—unfortunately, there are very few of them—and the families who have supported them in the worst circumstances imaginable. I want to do whatever I can to reassure those with recent diagnoses that we will never stop trying to find new ways to improve palliative care and, ultimately, a cure. Our scientific community in Scotland and around the world will continue its work, and we must support it. Research that is being done at the University of Glasgow is a great example of that work; I wish those involved in it well and, of course, hope for early success.

However, the task of treating pancreatic cancer cannot be accomplished by science alone. As we have heard, the public also have a vital role to play. That is precisely why events such as pancreatic cancer awareness month are so important.

Increased awareness can have a direct and tangible impact on detecting the disease far earlier than we are currently doing. It can mean the difference between life and death. In that respect, I am pleased to pay tribute to the demand better campaign. Bringing together more than 60 organisations across six continents in pursuit of that common goal is no small achievement. It is imperative that such campaigns continue to grow in the years ahead, and I would support any efforts that we make in the Parliament to help them.

We need to encourage everyone we can not just to be aware of what the symptoms are, but to seek medical assessment whenever symptoms appear, even if they seem trivial.

We must be resilient and stand alongside pancreatic cancer sufferers and their families. We must recognise that the earliest possible detection is vital if we want to lessen the impact of the disease on our society in the years to come.

It begins with us. It begins with us talking about the disease and sharing the experiences of those who have been affected in the hope that, in future days, we can diagnose and successfully treat it before it is simply too late.

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

I echo other members’ thanks to Clare Adamson for lodging the motion, which has provided MSPs with an opportunity to help to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer. I also welcome our visitors to the public gallery and congratulate all the charities involved and their supporters on the fantastic work that they do during pancreatic cancer awareness month, on world pancreatic cancer day and all year round.

Each year, campaigns such as turn it purple do crucial work to raise awareness and stimulate discussion of pancreatic cancer. This year’s world pancreatic cancer day is on 16 November and its theme—which is, as Clare Adamson said, “Demand better. For patients. For survival.”—provides an opportunity to raise awareness and to discuss the key issues surrounding pancreatic cancer and its impact across the world.

With more than 60 member organisations from 27 different countries, the world pancreatic cancer coalition and its member organisations are doing some outstanding work both in specific countries and on an international scale. That work is vital to the lives of so many. Every day more than 1,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and around 985 people die from it.

The picture in Scotland is equally worrying. In 2015, 812 people in Scotland were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 749 people died as a result of it. The incidence of pancreatic cancer increased significantly between 2005 and 2015, rising by 11.9 per cent. The lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer is now 1 in 80 for men and 1 in 83 for women.

Before today’s debate, I contacted a constituent of mine, Tom Pitcairn from Ringford in Galloway. Tom sadly lost his wife Isobel last year to what he described as this “insidious” disease. Since then he has been determined to raise awareness in memory of Isobel, as well as badly needed funds for the charities that carry out the important work that I and others have mentioned during the debate. Tom has already raised thousands of pounds for Pancreatic Cancer Scotland, and he urged me to use this debate to encourage as many people as possible to fundraise for PCS and other charities to help find ways to detect this appalling condition as early as possible.

Tom pointed out to me that, in Scotland, pancreatic cancer remains one of the least survivable cancers, with a relative five-year survival rate of less than 4 per cent. He stressed that early diagnosis and treatment is the key to improving mortality rates. There is therefore an urgent need to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and its symptoms. However, symptoms are often late-occurring and non-specific, so we cannot rely just on raising public awareness to improve detection. As the motion notes, there are currently no screening or early detection tests for pancreatic cancer. I would like to voice my support for the on-going work that is being done to develop such a test. Valuable research is taking place that looks into how biomarkers and scans may be used in a screening process, and it is vital that that work receives the support and funds that it needs.

As is all too often the case, pancreatic cancer disproportionately affects the worse off in our societies. Both prevalence and mortality are correlated with deprivation, with someone in the most deprived area being 31 per cent more likely than someone in the least deprived area to suffer from pancreatic cancer and 32 per cent more likely to die from it.

It is vital that we gain a better understanding of the risk factors that contribute to this cancer in order to take a holistic approach to reducing incidence and mortality. Smoking has been identified as a potential cause of pancreatic cancer, and factors such as age, weight and family history are all thought to contribute. However, there remains a great deal more to be done in that regard, and indeed a recent report by ISD Scotland on cancer in Scotland states that

“the causes of pancreatic cancer are poorly understood”.

Getting to grips with the causes and risk factors that underpin pancreatic cancer will not only help identify those at high risk, but better allow us to take a more preventative approach and work to address the underlying causes of pancreatic cancer.

In the meantime, I hope that this debate and the work of people such as Tom, those in the gallery and our invaluable cancer charities have played a small part in raising awareness of this condition, which sadly impacts on so many of our constituents.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I call John Scott, the last speaker in the open debate.

Photo of John Scott John Scott Conservative

Thank you very much, Presiding Officer, for allowing me to speak in this debate today to mark world pancreatic cancer day on 16 November and pancreatic cancer awareness month. I congratulate Clare Adamson on securing the debate.

I have a particular interest in this disease as my late wife Charity died of pancreatic cancer on 29 December 2000, aged 49. Some longer-serving members may remember her. She was a classic victim of pancreatic cancer, as she died following an exploratory operation, without recovering consciousness and not knowing that she had this dreadful disease. Then, as now, there was no screening or early detection test. Notwithstanding her pronounced jaundice, her GP never considered that this classic symptom might point to her having the disease. Even if she had survived the operation, she would have died within three months as her cancer was so advanced by the time she got to the operating theatre.

I take part in today’s debate in part as a heartfelt tribute to her memory, but also to support the campaign to raise awareness of the disease. It is simply not acceptable that pancreatic cancer is set to become the fourth biggest cancer killer in the UK by 2026, yet, currently, pancreatic cancer research attracts only 1.9 per cent of UK cancer research spending, as others have said. It is simply not acceptable that, of the 812 people who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Scotland in 2015, 749 died that year. It is not acceptable that only 7 per cent of those who are diagnosed survive for longer than five years.

I, too, welcome the Scottish Government’s funding of the precision panc initiative, which is based at the University of Glasgow and the Beatson institute for cancer research and aims to personalise treatment for pancreatic cancer, speed up scientific discovery and improve survival rates. I wish the researchers every success. I fully support more research into pancreatic cancer and I fully support the good work of Cancer Research UK and its fundraising to tackle all cancers so that, in the future, as few families as possible lose their loved ones to pancreatic and other cancers.

Presiding Officer, wish me luck as I go for my own pancreatic MRI scan on 16 November. Thank you.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you very much, Mr Scott. That was tough to do. As one of the early members of the Parliament, I recall your wife and the circumstances.

I now call on the minister, Aileen Campbell, to wind up.

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

Thank you, Presiding Officer. It gives me great pleasure to close tonight’s debate. I congratulate Clare Adamson on securing it and thank her for articulating very emotively her reasons for doing what she can to raise awareness of this incredibly cruel condition and, as the campaign states, to “Demand Better.”

I pay special tribute to John Scott, who was very brave to pay tribute to his late wife in his speech. That was not easy to do, and I sometimes think that these debates, which are often missed by the press, are where we hear members speak the most powerfully and movingly. I pay tribute to John again for contributing to the debate. It is difficult to follow him—I think that everyone has been touched by how he made his case. I wish him well for his own test, which is about to come up.

I welcome to the chamber all those from Pancreatic Cancer UK and all those who have the condition or have a loved one who has been impacted. Their presence is incredibly important and so, too, are their stories, their awareness raising and all the work that they do and effort that they put in to make sure that people know about the condition. I also pay tribute to Nicola Mcmanus’s mum and William Begley. We must ensure that their experience goes on to generate the improvements that we need to see happen across the country.

The Scottish Government recognises the damaging impact of all cancers, including pancreatic cancer, on individuals, their families and their friends. However, we should recognise that there has been some progress over the past 10 years. The overall age-adjusted cancer mortality rate in Scotland has reduced by 11 per cent. That significant improvement is thanks to the efforts of people across the NHS and the third sector. I pay tribute to and sincerely thank all those people who work tirelessly across the country delivering our health and social care services and those who raise awareness of such terrible diseases as pancreatic cancer.

However, we absolutely recognise that there are a small number of cancers, including pancreatic cancer, for which survival rates remain stubbornly low—in part, as members have said, because of late detection. Despite all our efforts and the improvements that we have seen, the UK and Scotland are still behind some other countries in terms of cancer survival rates for a number of tumour types, including—particularly significantly for tonight’s debate—pancreatic cancer, on which we still need to bring about much-needed improvement.

In March 2016, the Scottish Government unveiled its “Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action” strategy, which serves as a blueprint for the future of cancer services in Scotland. The Scottish Government is acutely aware that early detection of all cancers, including pancreatic cancer, is crucial. The earlier that cancer can be diagnosed, the better the chance of a positive outcome.

The cancer strategy will deliver £100 million of investment over the coming years to improve prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and aftercare for all those who are affected by cancer. Supporting those ambitions is our £41 million detect cancer early programme, which, over the past five years, has increased diagnostic capacity across Scotland, as well as worked to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer.

Next year, the programme will focus on the overall benefits of early detection for all cancers. It aims to encourage anyone with any concerns or changes to their body to visit their GP. I will instruct my officials to meet with colleagues from the pancreatic cancer charities to discuss how we can support awareness messages through our wee c strategy and social media and digital channels, and any other channels that are appropriate. We will, of course, extend that invitation to Miss Adamson, if she would like to be part of the meeting.

Another area of work that the Scottish Government has supported in order to improve diagnosis is the Scottish referral guidelines for suspected cancer, which were updated in 2014. Those include a specific section on pancreatic cancer and are intended to help GPs, the wider primary care team, other clinicians, patients and carers to identify those who are most likely to have cancer and who, therefore, require urgent assessment by a specialist. The guidelines include all the tell-tale signs that Clare Adamson, Maree Todd and others outlined, with a clear instruction to have a low threshold for considering further investigation or referral, because of the detection difficulties that we know exist for this cancer.

Once referral is made, we need to ensure that no one has to wait longer than they should to receive a diagnosis and then, if needed, treatment of their cancer. That is why the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport has announced the formation of a new ministerial cancer performance delivery group, which will focus on driving forward improvements in waiting times for diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients in Scotland and is backed by an additional £1 million investment to help to address capacity shortfalls in some areas. That is in addition to the £4.85 million of investment made in 2017 to support improvement in diagnostic scopes and imaging capacity for suspected cancer patients.

It is also important that we aim to prevent cancers from occurring in the first place, a point that was made by Colin Smyth. We know that smoking and obesity can be contributory factors in the development of pancreatic cancer. As we all know, Scotland has done much over past years to reduce the harms that come from preventable public health issues, and we have taken forward strategic approaches to tackle drinking, smoking and—this will have an indirect impact on the debate—diet and obesity, a new consultation on which we launched publicly last week.

Most members will be aware of the difficulty of diagnosing pancreatic cancer early. The symptoms are often non-specific and that can mean that people present very late to their GP. It is important that we have a good understanding of that type of tumour to enable NHS Scotland colleagues to treat it more effectively. The Scottish Government has made available via the chief scientist office more than £700,000 to support precision panc, along with the £10 million from Cancer Research UK. That investment will help to improve our understanding of this tumour type and, I hope, lead to more effective treatments. I welcome the increased focus from Cancer Research UK on less survivable cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, and I hope that the increased research capacity helps to improve outcomes for all those affected by this cancer.

Researchers can apply to the Scottish Government CSO for funding, and applications to investigate the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer would be very welcome. In direct response to Miles Briggs’s point about the fast-track referral and treatment trials that are happening in England, I point out that it will be at least two years before the outcomes of those pilots are known—that is important to know. However, there are processes in place via NHS National Services Scotland and our national cancer clinical services group to ensure that any new emerging evidence from those studies is considered when developing services in Scotland.

We absolutely know that we need to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer. We also know that we need to continue with research and that we need to be mindful of the correlation between cancer prevalence and the inequalities that too many of our communities face.

If we are to make improvements, we also need to be mindful of the stories of those who feel the pain of pancreatic cancer, whether themselves or because their loved ones have had the diagnosis. We demand better for them. As Lynda Murray has said, we will keep on advocating, to ensure that people get a fairer chance of survival.

I pay tribute to Clare Adamson for bringing this important debate to the chamber, and I pay tribute to John Scott and other members who spoke powerfully about the impact of this cruel disease on people they know, whether constituents or loved ones.

I hope that we can work together on research and capacity building to ensure that we bring about the improvements that we need, which have been a long time coming.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I commend all members who took part in the debate for their speeches.

Meeting closed at 17:45.