Launch of early diagnosis project to increase awareness of cancer symptoms in children, teenagers and young adults

TYAC is pleased to be a supporting partner of a new early diagnosis initiative announced today by Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG). ChildCancerSmart, a collaborative project with other childhood cancer organisations, aims to reduce the time it takes to diagnose cancer in children, teenagers and young adults.

Childhood cancer is the most common cause of death by disease for children in the UK, and many young people still experience long delays to diagnosis. This can mean that the cancer becomes bigger or spreads further into the body before the child is referred for hospital tests. This can result in the child’s cancer being diagnosed at a more advanced stage when treatment options are more limited and may be less effective.

Delayed diagnosis can also mean that childhood cancer survivors are faced with more severe long-term health issues as treatment and its side effects tend to be more intense for cancers diagnosed at a later stage with high-dose chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or invasive surgery.

ChildCancerSmart aims to prevent these delays by developing clear evidence-based accredited guidelines for primary healthcare professionals such as GPs to help them make quick decisions about cancer referrals. The project will also produce a national awareness campaign and resources highlighting signs and symptoms of all cancers for parents, schools and the general public, as well as research into our understanding of the issues surrounding why delayed diagnosis happens and how it can be addressed.   

ChildCancerSmart is led by Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group(CCLG), and the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre (CBTRC) at the University of Nottingham, in partnership with CLIC Sargent, the Grace Kelly Ladybird Trust, and Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer (TYAC).

Ten years ago, the CBRTC developed a similar project with The Brain Tumour Charity called the HeadSmart initiative which has been instrumental in halving diagnosis times for children with brain tumours in the UK. The ChildCancerSmart project hopes to replicate this success for all other cancers affecting children and young people so that no child or cancer type is forgotten. The project aims to be completed by 2020.     

CCLG and TYAC Chief Executive, Ashley Gamble, said: “In our new strategic plan earlier this year, we set ourselves the ambitious target of reducing diagnosis times for cancer in children and young people, and increasing awareness of the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer amongst healthcare professionals and the general public.”

“We’re delighted to launch the ChildCancerSmart project, which has been possible thanks to the support and expertise of our partner organisations. We hope that by reducing the time it takes to diagnose cancer in children and young people, we will not only increase survival, but improve the quality of life for survivors in adulthood.”