26 February 2015
TYA team secure funding for young people’s cancer study
A pioneering research project on young people's cancer is soon
to get underway at the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre
(BHOC). The year-long project will see the team from the teenage
and young adults (TYA) cancer service at the BHOC looking at the
journey of young people with cancer through the healthcare system,
from first presentation to diagnosis.
Mike Stevens, professor of paediatric oncology at University
Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, explains: "Cancer is the
leading medical cause of death in young people in the UK,
accounting for over 25% of all deaths in the age group from 15 - 24
years. Approximately 2,000 individuals of this age are diagnosed
with cancer each year in the UK and about 300 die from cancer each
"There has been concern for some time that cancer survival rates
are not as good in the UK as in comparable European countries and a
consistent theme that emerges is that, in the UK, the diagnosis
point may be later than in Europe. Outcomes for some types of
cancer in young people are also less than for the same diagnoses in
either children or older adults, suggesting that young people may
be particularly disadvantaged."
"A whole range of cancers present in young people, but as the
numbers are much smaller than for adult cancers, this makes data
analysis a great deal more challenging. A lot of work has been done
to investigate diagnostic pathways in the more common types of
adult cancer but, to date, very little work has focused
specifically on young people's cancers."
By examining the journeys of the young people who come into the
TYA service over the course of a year, the team will look at how
young people with cancer present to their GPs and to hospitals.
They will track their pathway through the healthcare system
pre-diagnosis, and attempt to identify if there may have been a
point where an earlier intervention could have been made.
Professor Stevens added: "In many cases when young people
present with symptoms, cancer may not be the doctor's first thought
as it is so rare. Young people tell us that it can often require
multiple visits both to a GP and to hospital services before the
diagnosis is suspected. Our work will try to provide an insight
into any areas of missed opportunity, and if any are found, we will
work with our colleagues in both primary and secondary care to look
at the ways in which a gap could be filled. It's important we work
together to do this, and to reassure patients that things are being
done and that the NHS is taking notice of what they tell us."
The project came about after the government issued a call for
bids to support work in improving the speed of diagnosis for all
types of cancer under NHS England's ACE Programme. The Bristol TYA
team was successful in obtaining £40,000 to fund this project for a
year. The team's study is the only one funded by the scheme to be
looking into young people's cancer.
BACK TO NEWS