HEALTH: Teenagers Forgotten in Cancer Tests; Tomorrow Dr Mike Hawkins Will Tell Delegates at the National Cancer Research Institute's Annual Conference How Teenagers and Young Adults Have Become Cancer's "Lost Tribe". He Spoke to Health Reporter Emma Brady
Byline: Emma Brady
Every year about 1,400 children in Britain are diagnosed with cancer. It is undoubtedly a devastating and traumatic time for both them and their families.
While major advances have been made in how childhood cancers are treated, a gap is opening up between patients who are diagnosed before the age of 15 and those who are over 16.
Dr Mike Hawkins, a reader in epidemiology at Birmingham University, will address the NCRI's three-day conference, at the International Convention Centre, on how teenagers and young adults are being left out of clinical trials and overlooked by research.
"Many cancer patients who are diagnosed at a young age, often pre-teens, are almost automatically asked to take part in clinical trials or studies," he said.
"As a result they benefit from new state-of-the-art treatments, which is fantastic, but after the age of 15 these young patients are technically classed as adult cases, less than ten per cent being included in such studies.
"We want to see this rolled out to teenagers and young adults now as well."
Dr Hawkins also backed The Birmingham Post's Cancer 2020 campaign, claiming the existing Cancer Plan must be revised to ensure teenagers and young adults are given equal access to clinical studies and services.
"People sometimes refer to this group, those aged 15 to 29, as the 'lost tribe'," he said. "The accessibility of services after 15 is a very big issue.
"We've built up strict standards of care for children with cancer but we want to move that onto teenagers and young adults. …