Speeding up access to surgery for pancreatic cancer patients diagnosed early enough increased success rates by a third, a pilot scheme has shown.
The Birmingham team said it had saved the NHS £3,200 per patient and could help hundreds of patients UK-wide.
The trial involved cutting average time to surgery for 32 patients from two months to just over two weeks – 31 had their tumours removed successfully.
But it will be two years before doctors know if operating earlier extends life.
About 9,600 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year, and fewer than 7% live beyond five years. Very little progress has been made in treating the disease since the early 1970s.
Currently, just 8% of pancreatic cancer patients in the UK have surgery to successfully remove their tumour, because the majority are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when surgery is not an option.
Even if a patient is eligible for surgery, the chances of that surgery being a success are linked to how quickly it takes place.
The team at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, led by pancreatic surgeon Keith Roberts, worked with hospitals to speed up referrals for patients and reorganised…