Tuesday 9th December 2014

UK

The news will be announced today (Tuesday, 9 December 2014) by Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham in a speech to the Britain Against Cancer conference. Mr Burnham pledged his commitment after meeting with the charity and Jane Sutton, mother of inspirational fundraiser and Teenage Cancer Trust supporter, Stephen Sutton MBE, who died earlier this year aged 19 after a late diagnosis of bowel cancer.

Teenage Cancer Trust research has shown that over a third of all young people with cancer are diagnosed through accident and emergency. They have also found around half of young people with cancer attend their GP three times or more with cancer symptoms before referral for tests. The charity is committed to improving the speed of diagnosis for young people with cancer and raising awareness of the common signs of cancer in young people. They also work to build young people’s confidence to spot changes to their health and to be persistent with doctors if their concerns aren’t being resolved.

Teenage Cancer Trust has run a pioneering Education & Awareness Programme for nearly 20 years. The sessions are upbeat and designed to demystify the disease and empower young people to take control of their health. Teenage Cancer Trust has been lobbying for many years for cancer education to be taught in every school in the UK. They have also recently supported the call for PSHE education to be made statutory and include cancer. Teenage Cancer Trust relies on donations to fund its vital work and urgently needs more investment and support to help pay for and extend their Education & Awareness Programme.

Jane Sutton said:

It is really important that young people are taught the signs of cancer at school. Stephen experienced significant issues being diagnosed and who knows what a difference an earlier diagnosis could have made. Unfortunately, this situation is not unique to Stephen and many young people with cancer have similar problems being diagnosed. We must do all we can to stop this happening to others. Students need to be taught the common signs of cancer and they must be given the confidence to go to the doctors, and to keep on going back if they feel their diagnosis isn’t right.

Siobhan Dunn, Chief Executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, said:

We know young people with cancer have a poorer diagnosis experience than any other age group. We hear every day how they and their families often feel angry that they’ve not been listened to. We owe it to young people with cancer to be more vigilant and young people can play their part too if we teach them the signs of cancer and build their confidence to seek help and be persistent at the doctors. We know our Cancer Awareness Sessions make a difference and that young people also take the knowledge home and share it with their families. We need a new generation who aren’t afraid to talk about cancer and we believe education is the key to achieving this. We are very grateful to Andy Burnham for his support and we urge the other parties to step up too.

In the school year, 2013 to 2014, Teenage Cancer Trust’s Education Team delivered Cancer Awareness Sessions in 515 schools across the UK, reaching 116,000 students. From March to October 2014 almost 40,000 people visited Teenage Cancer Trust’s online Learning Hub which hosts resources for teachers, including lesson plans endorsed by the PSHE Association. Teenage Cancer Trust’s Education Team also supports young people with cancer with their educational needs and spoke at 31 schools where there was a young person with cancer to help students and teachers there understand the issues.

In June 2013, the Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early programme partnered with Teenage Cancer Trust’s Education Programme to run Cancer Awareness Sessions in schools across Scotland. Since then, Teenage Cancer Trust’s Education Team in Scotland has reached over 2,400 students and 295 parents/carers, making it the biggest health intervention scheme of its kind in Scotland. Stirling University are evaluating the intervention and early findings show that students involved recognise more signs of cancer than those not involved, whilst also showing increased levels of communication about cancer with others.   

The five most common signs of cancer in young people are PERSISTENT and UNEXPLAINED:

  • Pain
  • Lump, bump or swelling
  • Significant weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Changes in a mole

For more information about cancer in young people or to speak to Teenage Cancer Trust’s Education Team, visit www.teenagecancertrust.org

-ENDS-

Notes to editors

For press enquiries please contact the Teenage Cancer Trust media team:

Michelle Saxby, 020 7612 0715, michelle.saxby@teenagecancertrust.org

Teenage Cancer Trust

Teenage Cancer Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for the seven young people aged between 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer every day. The charity builds specialist units within NHS hospitals that bring young people together to be treated by teenage cancer experts in a place designed just for them. 

Teenage Cancer Trust wants every young person with cancer to have access to the best possible care and professional support from the point of diagnosis, no matter where they live. Traditionally treated alongside children or elderly patients at the end of their lives, young people can feel extremely isolated during cancer treatment, some never meeting another young person with cancer. Being treated alongside others their own age by experts in teenage and young adult cancer care, can make a huge difference to a young person’s experience. 

Right now, for every young person that Teenage Cancer Trust can help, there’s another they can’t.  They relyon donations to fund all of its vital work. Find out more, get involved or make a donation at www.teenagecancertrust.org