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Teens need earlier cancer diagnosis


Teenagers with cancer should be treated in the same way as children, a new report from Public Health England claims. 

Approximately 2,000 individuals aged 15-24 are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK.  

Researchers from Public Health England's (PHE) National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) claim earlier diagnosis, and treating young adults with strategies used for children could be beneficial. 

Mike Stevens, Professor of Paediatric Oncology at the University of Bristol and Chair of the NCIN Children, Teenage and Young Adults Clinical Reference Group, said: “There is now data to suggest that teenagers and young adults should be treated in the same way as children rather than with strategies previously used for this disease in adults.

“Changes now being introduced to the treatment of teenagers and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia are likely to confirm the benefit of this approach.” 

The research found that the proportion of patients who died within a year of being diagnosed with cancer varies markedly by type of cancer from 23 per cent for those with acute myeloid leukaemia to 0.5 per cent for Hodgkin lymphoma. 

Other diagnoses found to have relatively high mortality rates were acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and soft tissue sarcoma.

Gill Lovitt, Teenage and Young People's advisor, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “This research shows just how vital it is that teenagers and young people with cancer are treated with the appropriate treatment and care for their specific age. 

“This is particularly important after treatment when teenagers become adults but still need follow up care designed to suit their changing needs.”

Tony Moran, intelligence lead at the NCIN's Manchester Teenage and Young Adults Cancer Intelligence Unit said: “Preventing even a proportion of these deaths at such an early age would make a considerable contribution to decreasing the number of years of life lost due to premature mortality.”