Wednesday 23rd October 2019

Teenage Cancer Trust calls for:

  • Free & fair access to fertility treatment
  • Full, frank fertility & sexual health discussions for all young people with cancer 
  • Mental health support before, during and after treatment

Young people with cancer are potentially being robbed of the ability to have biological children, as important information around fertility is not being communicated at the earliest opportunity says the cancer charity, Teenage Cancer Trust.

This, in addition to delay in diagnosis and access to mental health support, are among the issues identified in a response submitted to the Government’s 'Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020' consultation.

For approximately 15 per cent of young people with cancer there is a high risk of future fertility problems, and although many health professionals provide detailed information about the impact of treatment on fertility at diagnosis, 29 per cent of young people being treated for cancer do not receive this information*.

Louise Soanes, Director of Services at Teenage Cancer Trust said:

"Teenagers and young adults who have lived through cancer have had so much taken away from them already. They should not lose the ability to start a family of their own too.

"We found that over a quarter (29 per cent) of young people who were treated for cancer did not have a conversation about fertility with a health professional, while 44 per cent of young people were not satisfied with the information they were given. This is not acceptable and that’s why we're calling for every young person with cancer to have their fertility options explained to them by a health professional.

"Coupled with this, there needs to be fully funded access to cryopreservation (egg and sperm freezing) along with access to fertility services in accordance with NICE guidelines. Young people tell us that this isn’t always happening."

Responding to the Government consultation, Teenage Cancer Trust highlights some of the key challenges faced by young people undergoing cancer treatment and calls for:

  • Every young person with cancer must have their fertility options explained to them by a health professional
  • Fully funded access to cryopreservation (egg and sperm freezing) along with access to fertility services in accordance with *NICE guidelines
  • Health professionals to talk to every young person about the impact cancer treatment can have on sexual activity.
  • NHS England to endorse and support the roll-out of Teenage Cancer Trusts IAM Portal to support and improve teenage and young adult mental health
  • An extension to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to allow all 13 to 24 year old teenage boys and young men access to it via the NHS.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care to prioritise funding research into why geographical inequalities exist in cancer care
  • Education provision for young people around how to maintain a healthy weight so as to reduce the risk of cancer developing in adulthood

ENDS

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

Izzie Marshall on 07534952142 or email Izzie.Marshall@teenagecancertrust.org

Lauren Snaith on 07852998234 or email Lauren.Snaith@teenagecancertrust.org

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

Notes to editors

  • Teenage Cancer Trust General Survey 2018 (sample size: 242, 16-24 year olds)
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend people with cancer should be offered interventions by their cancer team at diagnosis (section 1.16).
  • The recent teenage and young adult Service Specification outlined a requirement for the teenage and young adult multi-disciplinary team to consider fertility preservation service for each young person if they could be affected by their treatment. Many health professionals give young people detailed information about the impact of treatment on fertility when they are diagnosed with cancer, but we know that this is not happening in a consistent way across the UK.
  • The IAM portal is the only holistic needs assessment specifically designed for teenagers and young adults. The Teenage Cancer Trust wants this portal to be used across all health services that work with young people.

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).