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Children and Young People Cancer Taskforce launched to save lives

By February 14, 2024No Comments

Clinicians, charities, patient groups and the government are on a joint mission to combat childhood cancer through a new taskforce launched this week.

The Children and Young People Cancer Taskforce, to be chaired by Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, aims to improve how we detect, treat and care for children with cancer, and will discuss how to save lives and deliver world-leading cancer services.

While rare, cancer is the leading cause of death in children aged 1 to 14 and one of the biggest causes of death in young people in the UK. More children are surviving than ever before, but the long-term impacts can remain significant.

The taskforce presents an opportunity to act and will consider genomic treatments, new diagnosis tools, research and innovation.

Tireless campaigner on childhood cancer Dame Caroline Dinenage will bring her knowledge, experience and dedication as well as her reputation as an exceptional Parliamentarian, to her role as chair.

Under her leadership the taskforce’s areas of focus will include:

  • DNA testing and treatment – ensuring children and young people get access to high-quality personalised therapies, new treatments and personalised medicines are more readily available, and the offer in the devolved administrations is examined
  • detection and diagnosis – giving children the best chance to beat cancer through earlier diagnosis, improving training, exploring how artificial intelligence can further support the workforce and raising awareness so people come forward sooner
  • investment in research and innovation – improving the targeting of research funding, reviewing children’s access to clinical trials, gaining greater access to data (including potential data-sharing arrangements with Australia) to inform future therapies and treatments in England, and encouraging teams to consider innovative solutions

Chair of the Children and Young People Cancer Taskforce, Dame Caroline Dinenage, said:

‘It’s an honour to be asked to chair the Children and Young People Cancer Taskforce, bringing together key figures who can make progress across 3 key areas: genomics, detection and diagnosis, and research and innovation.’

Structured meetings to drive forward progress will be held with a mix of experts and senior figures from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and the Office for Life Sciences, as well as appointees from the wider clinical community.

The government also recently joined forces with Prostate Cancer UK to unveil a £42 million screening trial to find ways of detecting country’s most common male cancer earlier. With one in 4 black men developing prostate cancer at some stage in their life (double the risk of other men), one in 10 of the men invited to participate in the trials will be black men. Participating men in the screening trial will be aged 50 to 75, with black men eligible from the lower age range of 45 to 75.

The taskforce is being co-ordinated in partnership with charities including Cancer Research UK, Teenage Cancer Trust, Young Lives vs Cancer, and the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group.