Survival from many types of childhood cancer has increased over recent decades, but there’s a lot more to do
London seems to have been the meeting place of the world this year. But I don’t think that any of the amazing events that have taken place here in 2012 have the ambition or potential to change lives like the recent annual congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP).
This brought together around 2,000 members of the children’s cancer community – doctors, nurses, scientists, parents, patients, survivors, psychologists and many more – to discuss a wide range of topics that impact on the care of children with cancer.
The agenda was absolutely packed, covering topics as diverse as the latest improvements in treatment and the importance of communication between medical staff and families to how to improve the situation for children in developing countries and raise awareness of childhood cancer.
Highlights are difficult to choose, but these are a few of mine.
What's the story behind the 'cervical cancer vaccine'?
This week the Welsh Assembly Government announced that its catch-up programme for HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination is to be sped up, protecting even more young women and girls from the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer.
Here’s an article taken from the “Behind the Headlines” section of our website, explaining more about the vaccine, and how it is being used to prevent cervical cancer.
HPV infection is the cause of vitually all cases of cervical cancer. In October 2007, Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced that girls aged 12-13 in England will be routinely vaccinated against cervical cancer, which started in September 2008. There will also be a two-year catch up campaign starting in Autumn 2009, for girls up to 18 years old.
The highly successful and comprehensive cervical screening programme will continue as the available vaccines do not protect against all cancer-causing types of HPV. And it will take several decades before their benefits are seen.
The HPV vaccine programme is an exciting development in cancer prevention, and the media has been reporting on the progress of the vaccines for a number of years. The issue is sometimes presented as a controversy because of fears that HPV vaccination will encourage promiscuity among young girls as well as protect them from cervical cancer later in life.
But are the media reports backed up by the facts?