Greece also participated in the global initiative for wider information of patients, population and medical community about pancreatic cancer. The Hellenic Gastro-Intestinal Cancer Study Group (GIC-SG) and the Greek member of ECPC, cancer patient organization K.E.F.I., co-organized a press conference in Athens, Greece, on Monday,  24 November. 

The event raised awareness about the 1st World Pancreatic Cancer Day and the diseases of the pancreas, as well as the problems patients and families face when a cancer diagnosis is announced. The event informed on a not well known organ and its almost lethal disease while also showcasing the excellent results of the Surgical Dept. of Aghia Olga General Hospital/Athens, on pancreatic tumor patients, whose tumor was resectable. Kathi Apostolidis, ΕCPC Vice President and Chair of DE.DI.DI.KA., Intergroup Committee for Cancer Patient Rights Advocacy, was also invited speaker to share her impressions of the events that have taken place in Brussels for the launch of the first World Pancreatic Cancer Day and share the concerns of pancreatic cancer patients and their families.

Dr. Christos Dervenis, Surgeon, Director of the Surgical Department at the General Hospital N. Ionia “Sainte Olga” and Member and Coordinator of GIC-SG pointed out that “For the treatment of pancreatic cancer, the same basic rule applies as for all malignant diseases: the earliest the diagnosis is made, the better the outcome. If we can increase the public awareness, as this is done with breast cancer, we will have made an important step toward earlier diagnosis, of vital importance, specifically for this type of cancer. Further, the establishment of a pancreatic cancer registry is critical for the scientific community, as it will help us to collect, sort and process reliable data on the occurrence of the disease in the Greek population, the application of therapeutic methods and the assessment framework for planning and control of the effects of pancreatic cancer in the regions of the country“.

Dr. John Boukovinas, Oncologist, Scientific Director of the Oncology Unit of the BIOCLINIC/Thessaloniki, also a member of GIC-SG commented: “The diagnosis is primarily made when the disease has advanced or has already metastasized. More than half of the pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed already with metastases. The severe symptoms often present late in the disease and there are no reliable methods for early detection. In the last two years, some scientific progress in the the field of targeted therapies makes us more optimistic than before, and with increasing awareness about pancreatic cancer, we hope to have better results in earlier detection“.

The President of the cancer patient support organization K.E.F.I. referred to their contribution to the works of the Greek pancreatic cancer platform: “At K.E.F.I. we hope to cover the compassion and support gap in pancreatic cancer, as we do with all patients facing cancer. Specifically, we intend, with the collaboration of the CIG-SG, to offer information on pancreatic cancer on our website, and also use the pancreatic cancer resources of the platform www.worldpancreaticcancerday.org, as well as those of the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), of which we are members. Our members and the public need reliable, easy to understand, practical information for patients and their relatives. Also our experienced volunteers and members will work closely with CIG-GS for content editing for patients and their relatives on the pancreatic cancer dedicated website, and offer community management. We also intend to integrate information on pancreatic cancer in advocacy planning for 2015 “.

Ms. Kathi Apostolidis, Chair of DE.DI.DI.KA., Intergroup Committee of Cancer Patient Rights Advocacy (linking 28 Greek cancer patient organizations) and Vice President of ECPC referred to the launch of the first World Pancreatic Cancer Day, the meeting of the European Pancreatic Cancer Platform and the Call to Action that took place in Brussels on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at the European Parliament: “Among the topics debated at the meeting of the European Pancreatic Cancer Platform, the need of a pancreatic cancer registry was vividly discussed as well as the inclusion of pancreatic cancer data in the European Network of Cancer Registries (ECRN ). We need uniformity in data collection and reporting on pancreatic cancer across Europe to facilitate data comparison, understanding and learning from the performance of all, leading to the design and adoption of European cancer policies and patient care. This is how we can close the inequalities in cancer care in Europe“.

Mrs. Apostolidis also invited participants to visit the platform www.worldpancreaticcancerday.org, that will collect all necessary data and all actions around the pancreatic cancer.

The Hellenic Pancreatic Platform will meet soon to discuss and decide on the next steps at national level.

Note: The event was organized with the unconditional support of Celgene.