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Australia Pancreatic cancer: the speedy killer stalking Australians

21:05  11 february  2020
21:05  11 february  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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a person in glasses looking at the camera: Wendy Braybon.© Supplied Wendy Braybon.

Michael Ranger and his wife Wendy Braybon “didn’t know a thing” about pancreatic cancer until she was diagnosed with the disease in March 2017.

Ms Braybon, a respected physiotherapist for several Australian Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams who was "always smiling", died in March the following year.

"It happened very quickly," he said.

On Wednesday Mr Ranger will join pancreatic cancer survivors, advocates and experts heading to Canberra for a meeting hosted by the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation with Health Minister Greg Hunt, opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen and other politicians.

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Avner Foundation chief executive Michelle Stewart said the meeting would hopefully raise awareness of the disease and boost research funding.

Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most common cancer in Australia, with about 3600 people diagnosed in 2019. It’s also the 11th most funded cancer for research by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

However, it is the fifth deadliest cancer, with an estimated 3050 deaths in 2019. Within 12 months of diagnosis, 80 per cent of patients will die, Avner Foundation research said.

Mr Ranger said there was “no big outcry” about the state of pancreatic research funding because people do not live long after diagnosis.

“The bloody thing comes and you’re gone,” he said.

Professor Chris Baggoley, the former Australian chief medical officer,  is one of the lucky few patients whose cancer was discovered before it spread beyond his pancreas, meaning he could be treated with surgery and six months of chemotherapy.

Stalker who sent Delta Goodrem hundreds of poems over Instagram claiming she was his 'soulmate' before turning up at her apartment on Valentine's Day pleads guilty

  Stalker who sent Delta Goodrem hundreds of poems over Instagram claiming she was his 'soulmate' before turning up at her apartment on Valentine's Day pleads guilty James Joseph Lafferty had already sent Ms Goodrem more than 300 poems when he showed up at The Voice star's apartment building in Sydney with gifts on Valentine's Day.James Joseph Lafferty, 47, had already sent Ms Goodrem more than 300 poems when he showed up at The Voice star's apartment building in Sydney with gifts on Valentine's Day.

For the 90 per cent of patients whose cancer has spread beyond the pancreas, he said the treatment options were slim, and "really given with palliative care in mind".

“With other cancers there’s a second line of treatment, a third line of treatment, and that’s good … and for so many cancers it’s brilliant that the survival rates have improved, and you just want pancreatic cancer to emulate that,” he said.

a person sitting on a bed: Michael Ranger's wife Wendy Braybon died from pancreatic cancer in March 2018.© Simon Schluter Michael Ranger's wife Wendy Braybon died from pancreatic cancer in March 2018.

Professor Baggoley is also attending Wednesday's meeting to advocate for more research funding.

While that won’t change his own future, Professor Baggoley said: "there is no doubt that the need for improved funding from all sources, including government, is just essential to make a difference.”

In the Avner Foundation’s report on pancreatic cancer, it said an extra $52 million in funding would go towards research, including identifying why pancreatic cancer is resistant to current cancer treatments, finding ways to detect the cancer earlier, and finding new treatments.

Ralph Metzner sitting on a bed: Michael Ranger's wife Wendy Braybon died from pancreatic cancer in March 2018.© Simon Schluter Michael Ranger's wife Wendy Braybon died from pancreatic cancer in March 2018.

“We’ve got some of the best pancreatic cancer researchers, scientists and clinicians in the world,” Ms Stewart said.

“What we need to do now is make sure those advances in the lab are transferred into the clinic so they can reach the patients that need them, and so we can evaluate whether they’re effective.”

Caring for 'older Australians' is 'core business' .
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