Pancreatic cancer is traditionally regarded as a devastating disease with a short prognosis following the initial diagnosis. Because of the nature of the disease and the necessary staging procedure, diagnosis can take time and investigations can take longer and be more invasive than other cancers. The journey from first suspicion of malignancy to final diagnosis can be one of fear and anxiety, the patient and his/her family can have many complex emotional and physical needs. Patients with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer will come into contact with many professionals who will assess and give advice on which treatment path to follow. It is essential that patients and carers understand the process and treatment planned in order to give informed consent and reduce anxiety.
Recommendations from the manual of cancer services standards (IOG), state that any person suspected of having a cancer diagnosis should have access to a senior nurse from point of referral. As a result there are now significant numbers of Clinical Nurse Specialists, Cancer Practitioners and Macmillan Nurses in post who are responsible for helping to manage and direct the pathway of patients with pancreatic cancer. There is an increasing amount of skills and knowledge now available which has a dramatic impact on the patient with cancer. Data suggests that the impact of specialised care for common cancers and probably for many cancers can increase long term survival by 5-10%. Nurse’s interest in the Pancreatic Society of GB & NI has increased in recent years and participation within the society has been developing. Such membership throughout the different regions should be encouraged to coincide with the developing role of senior nurses as case managers and site specific tumour specialists. I am presently the nurse representative on the committee and would encourage nurse participation.