Clinicians, charities, patient groups and the government are on a joint mission to combat childhood cancer through a new taskforce.
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.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins, said: "Discovering your child has cancer is among the worst news a parent can receive. Thanks to the remarkable progress in treatment and research, survival rates are higher than ever. However, even then, life-changing consequences can remain.
"This taskforce will help bring together world-leading experts and those who have dedicated their lives to fighting cancer to discuss how we can go further faster and to drive progress in cancer care for children and young people."
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.
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.