World Pancreatic Cancer Conference Report

Thursday, May 16, 2019

On May 6-8, a truly unique event for the global Pancreatic Cancer community took place in Miami, Florida.

A total of 110 attendees from 22 nations gathered to attend the 4th World Pancreatic Cancer conference in Miami, Florida to connect, collaborate and learn how together we can be more effective in the fight against Pancreatic Cancer.

Julie Fleshman, President and CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network delivered a passionate welcome address to the delegates stating that "no one is going to get the job done alone. It’s only if we work together that we will accelerate progress. That’s what the coalition is all about."  Julie went on to highlight the magnitude of the disease globally, quoting that 1250 people are diagnosed, and 1180 will die from Pancreatic Cancer across the globe each day.

A panel of Pancreatic Cancer experts then held an informative discussion called The Science of Pancreatic Cancer: A Global Perspective which focused on the critical role of both research and trials in fighting the disease. Barbara Kenner, Talia Golan MD, and Diane Simeone MD held the discussion on stage and later took questions from delegates.

The inspirational Diane Simone was quoted numerous times in live social media posts, with some of the most powerful and memorable quotes of the conference, none more so than when she stated that “Knowledge is Power”, then encouraging patients to become “their own advocates”. Diane went on to discuss the role of medical professionals dealing with Pancreatic Cancer: “It is our obligation as researchers and physicians to change the status quo and remove the nihilistic attitudes surrounding Pancreatic Cancer.”

Later on day 1, Diana Jupp, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, lead a presentation on supporting Pancreatic Cancer patients, which provided insights and into existing services for patients and caregivers, with a focus on practical and emotional support.

Diana stepped through how the organisation evolved Pancreatic Cancer patient care across the UK, saying “We believe in raising the voice of the patient to transform patient care across the UK, and patient involvement is at the heart of the organisation.” While the organisation's face to face services called Living with Pancreatic Cancer Days are valuable to those who attend, Diana and her team are also focusing efforts on digital-based services to improve patient access.

In a popular break out session on Clinical Trials, US-based nursing professional Dalissa Tejera APRN spoke of the importance of Clinical Trials and how some positive results are resulting from patients discovering the option, even when diagnosed in later stages. “Clinical Trials can be an option – regardless of stage and time. I am still in regular contact with patients that came to me in advanced stages of Pancreatic Cancer 5 years ago, at that stage, most of them without hope" Dalissa said.

As the conference drew to a close, attendees formed small groups to share knowledge of positive progress being made in each organisation, and discuss common challenges faced across the globe.

Jim Rolfe from the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation in the US addressed the conference with a powerful and poignant comment saying “The world is depending on these 80 organisations to solve the Pancreatic Cancer problem globally - that’s a big responsibility."

The World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition began in 2016 with more than 40 organisations from over 20 countries across the globe with the vision of sharing best practices and leveraging expertise, to strengthen the collective impact, to ultimately drive transformational change.

Referring to the Coalition, Avner Foundation Executive Director, Caroline Kelly said: “the global support and awareness for the disease is important to ensure a coordinated and unified approach across the globe, and the Avner Foundation looks forward to working closely with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition and member organisations to help achieve this."

We will continue to collaborate with WPCC global alliance partners with a view to improving our effectiveness as a leading Pancreatic Cancer charity. The next WPPC conference will be held in Los Angeles, the USA in late 2020.