Wednesday 26th August 2015

In this post we examine some key developments from the past month and consider their impact on young people with cancer. You can read more about our policy priorities here, or get in touch with us by email.

New Cancer Strategy for England – what next?

We were encouraged to see the new Cancer Strategy for England tackle both the issue of access to clinical trials for young people with cancer and the need for increased education about cancer in schools when it was launched in July. It also included important recommendations on patient experience and how cancer services for young people are designed and delivered. Yet questions still remain about what happens next. Who will be responsible for driving forward these recommendations and coordinating the many different bodies who will play a role in making change happen?  What are the timescales for delivering the strategy?  And how can we ensure that the ambitions are delivered in a way that works for all cancer patients, including young people?

At Teenage Cancer Trust we're continuing to ensure that the recommendations which can have a real impact on young people with cancer are put in place.  We're meeting with Parliamentarians, representatives from the NHS both nationally and regionally, and of course working with young people themselves to ensure our policy work reflects what matters to them. 

Scotland's 'wee c' initiative launches

The Scottish Government, in collaboration with Cancer Research UK, launched the 'wee c' campaign in August. Aiming to draw attention to rising cancer survival rates in Scotland, the government notes that this year over 15,000 men and women diagnosed with cancer will survive compared to 9,500 that would have survived 30 years ago. We joined the campaign launch to celebrate this success. While survival rates for young people have increased since the mid-1990s to an average of 80%, this varies widely by cancer type, ranging from 96% for germ cell cancer patients to 56% for those with bone tumours. Increased education about cancer, access to specialist services and new clinical trials all have a role in improving outcomes for young people. 

Susie Rice, Teenage Cancer Trust's Head of Education and Awareness said:

Talking about cancer is vitally important to improving awareness of signs and symptoms of cancer and empowering people to notice and act on changes to their bodies. 

"Teenage Cancer Trust's education programme across Scotland encourages young people to be more aware of signs of cancer and healthy lifestyle choices, as well as encouraging young people to talk to their families. We fully support what the wee c initiative aims to do – reduce the fear of cancer and boost survival; we look forward to playing a part in turning the Big C into the wee c."

Meeting with the Children's Commissioner for England

Our Chief Executive Siobhan Dunn and Head of Policy Sasha Daly met with Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England this month. The Children's Commissioner is responsible for promoting and protecting the rights of children across the country. As Anne is relatively new to the role, this meeting was our first chance to chat to her about her new remit and the areas of her work that impact on young people with cancer. Discussions covered the needs and rights of young people accessing health services, the importance of health education in schools and the role of oversight bodies in holding the Government and NHS to account. Anne took away a copy of our new handbook, Honest Answers, Sound Advice – A Young Person’s Guide to Cancer.  We’re looking forward to working alongside her in the future. 

Accelerated Access Review opens online engagement

Launched this summer, the Accelerated Access Review is a government initiative looking into how health innovation can be supported and improved across the UK.  It's chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor and is tasked with making sure that any new treatments, medical devices and technologies are developed and made available to patients in the best way possible. 

The Review is important to young people with cancer because it touches on drug development and clinical trials. We know that only around 30% of teenagers aged 15-19 and 14% of young people aged 20-24 enter trials for common cancer types in children and young people compared with 50-70% of children. We set out some solutions to this gap in our recent report on clinical trials. It's really important for everyone to work together on addressing this disparity, from patients and their families, to clinicians and regulators, pharmaceutical companies and those funding and conducting research. It's therefore great to see that the Review is open to all.  You can find out more and contribute your views via the Review's website until 11 September.