Cancer mainly affects older people, due to the fact that most cases are caused by genetic damage building up over a lifetime. But children and young adults can also be affected by the disease.
Thankfully, cancer in childhood is relatively uncommon – it affects about 1 in 500 children under the age of fifteen in the UK. But it’s also the most common cause of death from illness in children aged between one and fourteen, claiming more than 300 lives every year.
Cancer Research UK’s support has put the UK at the heart of international research into children’s cancer, and we’re the largest funder of research into childhood cancer in the UK. We’re tackling the problem from all angles – spending over £9 million in this area last year – so that children with the disease can look forward to a brighter future.
This month we’ve released a brand-new leaflet covering key facts about children’s cancer and showcasing some of our groundbreaking research projects across the UK.
The new Children’s Cancer Trials Team
Clinical trials are crucial for testing new ways to treat cancer. Cancer Research UK has funded many of the world’s most successful trials for children’s cancer treatments, and we continue to support world-class research in this area.
Last month we announced the launch of the Cancer Research UK Children’s Cancer Trials Team, which will play a major role in the development of new treatments for childhood cancers. The team will co-ordinate groundbreaking clinical trials in 21 centres across the UK and Ireland.
These trials bring cutting-edge science from the lab to the clinic, making innovative new treatments available to children with cancer. Researchers are also using their expertise to design trials for rarer cancers where it can be hard to recruit enough participants – we blogged about the launch of one such trial in December last year. And if you want to find out more about the Trials Team, there’s an interview with Dr Pam Kearns from the team in our recent podcast.
Our efforts to support children with cancer don’t stop at research. We also celebrate the bravery of young people with the disease through our Little Star awards, in partnership with TK Maxx.
The awards are open to all under-17s who have cancer or have been treated for the disease in the last five years, and parents, friends and relatives from across the UK can put forward the name of their Little Star for special recognition.
Thanks to major advances in treatment, around three quarters of children with cancer are now successfully treated, compared with around a quarter in the 1960s. Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of this huge progress.
And of course we mustn’t forget that our research is entirely funded by the public, making our supporters a central part of our efforts to beat children’s cancer.
Nell Barrie, Science Information Officer