Although cancer is mainly a disease of older people, around 2,000 teenagers and young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK. And although survival for this age group has improved significantly over the years, it’s still not as good as the progress that has been made in treating cancer in younger children.
At the NCRI Cancer Conference this week, UCL’s Dr Jeremy Whelan chaired a session specifically looking at the issues affecting cancer care for teens and young adults. Here’s a short interview with Dr Whelan, exploring some of the reasons for the differences in care for this age group:
These themes are picked up in a special report in The Independent this week. As the article points out,
“Teenage cancer patients are missing out on life-saving treatments because few clinical trials are open to young people. Arbitrary age restrictions mean young adults are often too young or too old to participate in drug trials, leaving doctors to later ‘guess’ what doses work best for this age group.”
“Young cancer patients also face a hospital post-code lottery as less than half treated in a specialist ward, warns the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT). The rest end up in either child or adult wards without the right expertise, no peer support, and little chance of hearing about clinical trials”