A group of doctors from Nova Scotia is biking its way to P.E.I. to talk about pancreatic cancer, and encourage more aggressive treatment of the disease.

The doctors, as well as other participants, are travelling around Atlantic Canada, presenting information sessions on the disease.

The doctors are concerned that many patients with pancreatic cancer do not receive treatment. New research shows a lack of confidence in available therapies could hinder long-term outcomes for those patients.

The research found, among other things

  • 60 per cent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, at the beginning of diagnosis, will not receive a referral to a medical oncologist.
  • 38 per cent of patients with early stage tumours and no identifiable contraindication to surgery did not have surgery due to failure of proper referral.
  • Chemotherapy can add months to people's lives, but only a small proportion of patients receive it.

Support groups needed

The doctors are working with the Craig's Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society, which was launched after Stefanie Condon-Oldreive's father died from the disease.

Part of the work of Craig's cause is to establish more support groups for patients, so they can have the information and support Condon-Oldreive's father didn't have.

"For Dad, he didn't have anyone to talk to and that was hard," she said.

"These information sessions put [patients] in touch with each other and they put caregivers in touch with each other, and they not only provide the information, but they let people know that they're not in it alone. They're not by themselves. Dad didn't have that."

More than 300 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in Atlantic Canada.