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‘Serious Game’ Launched by NIPANC and QUB

Promoting public awareness of Pancreatic Cancer as part of #TimeMatters campaign

Today Monday, November 14th, NIPANC is pleased to launch the first digital game to promote public awareness of pancreatic cancer; a joint event with researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and Focus Games Ltd. A further Serious Game commissioned to support medics in diagnosing the disease is also being announced.

Those attending the ‘Pancreatic Cancer is More Than a Game’ event in QUB’s Great Hall - including former NI Minister for Health, Robin Swann - will try out the new, free-to-use digital game aimed at informing as many people as possible about the disease in a more accessible way.

The Serious Game; Pancreatic Cancer Awareness is now online and available to play. It is part of NIPANC’s #TimeMatters campaign which during November, World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month #PCAM, is encouraging people to take life-saving action by learning about the symptoms of the disease and where necessary seeking early diagnosis, referral and treatment.

This year, the charity has enlisted the help of children and young people who have lost a parent to pancreatic cancer to drive public awareness by telling their stories in a series of emotional blogs, videos and press interviews.

Their aim, assisted now by this digital innovation, is to persuade the public to put their fears aside and get to know the symptoms of the disease so other families don’t have to go through what they have.

Ellie Irvine

Ellie Irvine now (16) who lost her dad Noel (54) to pancreatic cancer when she was just five years old was among the first to give the game - which can be played on any smartphone, tablet, or computer - the thumbs up.

She said: “Players get asked random questions from a question bank about pancreatic cancer. If you get the question correct, you progress in the game. Players get about 90 seconds to play but can have multiple attempts at answering the questions. After every question, players get the correct answer and find out the reasoning behind it.

“Pancreatic cancer is not an easy subject matter so I think this is a really quick, easy and less scary way of getting people, friends and families, to know more about the disease and go to their doctor if they are concerned about symptoms. There is hope but only if it gets caught early.”

NIPANC provided 100% of the funding required by QUB to develop the game which also signposts players to other important services and resources. The project, which began in June 2022 is led by Dr Gary Mitchell, a registered nurse and senior lecturer from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast.

He said: “As far as we know this is the first-time gaming technology has been used with an educational purpose for pancreatic cancer. Despite its novelty, games have shown promising results in raising awareness and changing perceptions in other areas such as flu or dementia.

“The end result involved a number of workshops in which we talked to people who live or have lived with the disease. We consulted with those who have been affected by pancreatic cancer including family members and carers, advocates, medical professionals and members of the public to understand what the key messages should be for the game and how it should look. Assisted by student nurses, we co-created the Serious Game, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness.

Ivan McMinn MBE, Chairperson of NIPANC is a pancreatic cancer survivor and among only 1% of people to survive the disease past ten years. Today’s event marks his eleventh anniversary. On November 14th 2011, he was diagnosed just after 1pm which is the exact time of his Monday speaking slot.

Ivan said: “The launch of the Serious Game today is another tool in our armoury against this deadly disease. Approximately 260 people are diagnosed with the condition in NI and the numbers are on the increase. Survival rates have not improved much in the last 40-years. The reality is people may not experience any symptoms in the early stages and the disease is often at an advanced stage when diagnosed.

“With late diagnosis and the small number of treatment options available means survival rates are low. Pancreatic Cancer is often referred to as the silent killer because early signs and symptoms can be vague and difficult to recognise even for GP’s.

“That’s why we are also announcing today funding for further digital innovation to support medical professionals diagnose pancreatic cancer. Early detection will help identify patients who are candidates for surgical resection which still represents the best chance of a cure.”

Melvin Bell, Focus Games Ltd said: “Serious Games are an effective way to raise awareness and stimulate discussions about difficult or emotive subjects.”

The Serious Game can be found online HERE

Read more about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer HERE


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