Friday 24th April 2020

Leaders in teenage and young adult cancer care warn that young people‘s chances of survival and long-term consequences could be affected, as their cancer goes undiagnosed.

Teenage Cancer Trust has learnt that in some parts of the UK, for the first time, there have been no newly diagnosed cases of cancer in teenagers and young adults as the impact of the coronavirus hits NHS services. Only this week it was revealed that there has been a 75% fall in cancer referrals. Even before coronavirus, young people with suspected cancer symptoms told Teenage Cancer Trust they had to visit their GPs three times before they were referred to a specialist. This has led to the charity launching its #BestToCheck campaign.

The campaign aims to remind young people of the common signs and symptoms of cancer, and despite the nation being on lockdown due to Coronavirus, urge them not to sit on symptoms and contact their GP.

Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in 13-24 year olds but with early diagnosis, lives can be saved and the risk of developing other complications is reduced. That’s why Teenage Cancer Trust is urging all young people to look out for the following symptoms:

  • lumps, bumps or swellings
  • unexplained tiredness
  • mole changes
  • persistent pain
  • significant weight change.

Dr Louise Soanes, Direct of Services at Teenage Cancer Trust said:

"Every day around seven young people aged 13-24 are diagnosed with cancer in the UK.

"We know that across all age groups, cancer referrals have fallen by as much as 75% during the Coronavirus pandemic, and with the anecdotal evidence we’ve gathered, we fear that many 13-24 year olds will be deterred from contacting their GP, not wanting to add pressure to the health service.

"We know that cancer can be harder to treat if it’s not diagnosed early, but young people can be slower to visit their GP with symptoms. It can also take longer for them to be referred to specialist. That’s why putting off an appointment will make things harder for the NHS in the long term.

"My message to all teenagers and young adults is simple. Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of cancer and if you are worried, contact your GP. Don’t ignore any changes to your body that you are seeing; it can be worrying, but it’s important to get anything checked out. The health service is still very much open and wants to support you."

Find out more about #BestToCheck: www.teenagecancertrust.org/signs

ENDS

Case studies are available for interview.

For more information or to set up an interview with a Teenage Cancer Trust spokesperson or young person, please contact:

Lauren Snaith, Media & PR Manager (Policy & Campaigns), on 07852 998234 or email lauren.snaith@teenagercancertrust.org

Ruwani Purcell, Deputy Director of Communications on 07958 222580 or email Ruwani.purcell@teenagecancertrust.org

For out of hours media enquiries, please contact the Duty Press Officer on 0757 225 1265.

Note to editors

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in 13-24 year olds - there are an estimated 2,397 cases of cancer diagnosed in 13-24 year old’s in England annually (this equates to 6.8 a day) and 255 deaths
  • There are five common signs of cancer in young people aged 13-24 that everyone should be aware of:
    • lumps, bumps or swellings
    • unexplained tiredness
    • mole changes
    • persistent pain
    • significant weight change.

    Although cancer in young people is rare, if you’re worried about any of these symptoms, it’s really important that you get them checked out.

  • Early diagnosis is important for survival rates as patients diagnosed at an early stage are more likely to survive cancer
  • Young people often aren’t aware of the symptoms of cancer. A UK study found that young people recognized on average 4.4 (of 11) cancer risk factor.

About Teenage Cancer Trust

  • Every day, seven young people in the UK aged 13 to 24 hear the words "you have cancer".
  • Teenage Cancer Trust puts young people in the best possible place, physically, mentally and emotionally, for their cancer treatment and beyond.
  • We do it through our expert nurses, support teams, and hospital units. And we're the only UK charity dedicated to providing this specialised nursing care and support.
  • Teenage Cancer Trust is a registered charity: 1062559 (England & Wales), SC039757 (Scotland).