Teenagers with cancer are missing out on vital services

02/29/04

Serious lack of teenagers and young adults in trials, poor facilities and reliable statistics says UK MP

London, UK: Dr Ian Gibson MP, Chair of the UK's All Party Working Group on Cancer, has today called on the Government to make further provisions for teenagers with cancer, who are currently falling far behind children and adults when it comes to cancer services.

Speaking at a news briefing at Teenage Cancer Trust's Third International Conference on Cancer and the Adolescent on 1st March, he said there were a number of reasons why teenagers were falling behind in cancer services.

"75% of children are entered into Clinical Trials. This drops alarmingly in the teenage and young adult years. It is unacceptable that this state of affairs continues. The Government must find ways to ensure that more teenagers and young people enter clinical trials in order to increase their chances of survival.

"Concerns were widely expressed about children missing out, but from these figures it looks apparent that the worst victims are the teens and young adults.

"The threat of a reduction in clinical trials from the current EU Directive is being tackled here in Parliament".

"Currently, in my constituency, Norwich North, the nearest specialist Teenage Cancer Trust unit for a teenager with cancer is in The Middlesex Hospital in London or The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham - both of which are over 200 miles round trip.

"Teenage Cancer Trust units are currently oversubscribed and each one is serving a vast population. I am awaiting confirmation that Addenbrooke's Hospital at Cambridge will develop a Teenage Cancer Trust unit so that there is a facility in East Anglia but teenagers in numerous other towns all over the UK are forced to travel miles and tear families apart in order to receive the best possible treatment and the best chances of survival in one of these units."

"There is currently very little statistical information available for this age group due to the arbitrary separation of adults and children with cancer.

"I would like to congratulate NICE for setting up the Guidelines Development Group for Children and Adolescent Cancer and for its decision to extend its scope to all teenagers and people in their early twenties. This is an innovative step for the NHS and we look forward to their published recommendations in 2005.

"Let's hope they resource their recommendations to ensure that each cancer network addresses the problems"

Source: Eurekalert & others

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