12 February 2024

A new taskforce will provide an extra focus on the improvement of care for children and young people with cancer, the Government announced last week.

The taskforce is to be chaired by Dame Caroline Dinenage, and will involve charities including Cancer Research UK, Teenage Cancer Trust, Young Lives vs Cancer, and the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group.

It is expected to push for improved access to DNA testing and treatment and investment in research and innovation. As part of seeking improvements in detection and diagnosis, the taskforce will explore how artificial intelligence can support clinicians, as well as how to improve public awareness to ensure early diagnosis.

It wants to improve the targeting of research funding and review children’s access to clinical trials. The taskforce also plans to gain greater access to data – including potential data-sharing arrangements with Australia – to inform future therapies and treatments in England.

Ashley Ball-Gamble, chief executive of the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group, welcomed the news, saying: “Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in older adults, and patients and their families have unique needs that can only be addressed by a dedicated, and specific, approach.

“The new taskforce offers a unique opportunity for charities, clinicians, patients and families, and government to come together and act collaboratively on some of the biggest challenges - and opportunities - facing us, as we work to improve diagnosis, treatment, care and survival.”

NHS national clinical director for cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said: “We have made huge strides in the care and treatment of cancers in children - with personalised medicines and targeted treatments reducing the risk of lasting impacts - but there is always more we can do.

“Having a dedicated taskforce focused on improving the diagnosis, treatment and research of childhood cancers means we can continue to build on the great advances of recent years to further reduce long-term complications - and ultimately see children and young people with cancer living longer, happier lives.”

Source: Department of Health and Social Care


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