"Malta should focus on the very basics in pancreatic cancer care" - EPCI

The European Pancreatic Cancer Index shows that Malta's treatment of pancreatic cancer needs to be standardized

The first ever comparison of pancreatic cancer treatment in Europe shows that most countries do not pay enough attention to the disease. In spite of causing almost as many deaths as breast cancer, pancreatic cancer is neglected by healthcare. In 4 out of 5 countries, treatment outcomes data are not monitored and there is no agreed best practice, among them Malta. This is part of the Euro Pancreatic Cancer Index (EPCI), published today by the Sweden-based research organisation Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP).

The Index – the first ever comparison of pancreatic cancer care in Europe – covers the following areas, using 30 indictors: Patient right, information and accessibility to care, Prevention, Treatment outcomes, Diagnostics, Pharmaceuticals and Palliative care.

"Malta should focus on the very basics in pancreatic cancer care: training doctors to detect the cancer early and monitor basic treatment data," says Dr. Arne Bjornberg, head of HCP Index production.  "Poor documentation hinders efficient cancer care. In Malta, the lack of reporting is even worse than in neighbouring countries which make most assessments futile. But I am afraid that such negligence causes the death of Maltese patients."

Pancreatic cancer has a deserved reputation as a ‘silent killer’. The cancer is generally detected too late, which makes treatment almost impossible. Doctors need better training to detect the disease early. It is the fourth largest cause of cancer deaths in the EU, killing more than 100 000 Europeans every year. Unlike for other cancers, this number is rising. Most people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer patients will die within the first year of diagnosis.

Despite the burden posed by the disease, most countries have no best practice for treatment. 4 out of 5 countries cannot present treatment outcomes data. Chances of survival are twice as high in the best performing European countries as among those with weakest performance, shows the EPCI.

"The overall picture is far from bright, but there are fore-runners in pancreatic cancer treatment," explains Anne-Marie Yazbeck, EPCI project manager. "The Netherlands, Denmark, France and Ireland show good examples. Doctors seem more aware of the disease and treatment outcomes are comparatively well monitored and documented.

"What is encouraging is that we can identify strategic steps towards progress. Monitoring and documentation of pancreatic cancer treatment are components where Malta should improve significantly."

The full EPCI report is available for free at www.healthpowerhouse.com. 

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