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Child Cancer Deaths Drop by Almost a Quarter

The number of children dying of cancer has fallen by 24 per cent in the last 10 years according to Cancer Research UK.

The number of children dying of cancer has fallen by 24 per cent in the last 10 years according to Cancer Research UK.

The charity says the number of British children aged 14 and under dying from cancer each year has fallen from 330 a decade ago to around 260 today.

Despite the fall, Cancer Research has warned against complacency and emphasised that there are still around 1,500 children diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK.

Although up to 10 children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the UK and around five die from the disease every week, survival rates for child cancer have tripled since the 1960s and 75 per cent of children with cancer in Britain today are now cured.

Much of this success has been attributed to better imaging and radiotherapy techniques as well as the practice of combining chemotherapy drugs in treatment.

It is of course fantastic that there are less children losing their lives to cancer now compared to 10 years ago, but it is important to remember that we need continued research into bringing about improved and kinder cancer treatments that prevent the kind of adverse long-term side effects so typically associated with childhood cancer treatment.

Unfortunately at present, many children who survive cancer still have to live with the so-called ‘late effects’ of their treatment. The type of treatments that can cause these effects include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and stem cell transplantation.

The risk of developing these late effects depends on a number of factors. They include: the type of cancer, whereabouts the tumour was in the body, and how the tumour affected the way tissues and organs functioned.
Research has shown that, among adults who were treated for cancer during childhood, between 60 and 90 per cent will develop one or more chronic health conditions by the age of 45, and between 20 and 80 per cent will suffer severe or life-threatening complications.

Related health problems can occur months or even years after successful treatment has ended and can affect organs and tissues, growth and development, moods and feelings, and social and psychological adjustment. As such effects can understandably have a tremendous impact upon adult lives, it is crucial less toxic treatments are found.

Around 10,000 children in Britain have cancer today. Tumours of the brain and nervous system are now the most common fatal childhood cancers, killing around 120 British children every year.

Unfortunately it is relatively common for scans, tissue samples and x-rays to be misinterpreted, particularly with regard to brain tumours and some lymphomas, leading to potentially catastrophic delays in diagnosis.

When opportunities for diagnosis are missed and tumours are allowed to develop to a more advanced stage, it can obviously have a significant impact upon any eventual outcome. Early diagnosis and the provision of specialist treatment is therefore absolutely vital to improve the chances of a patient’s survival and recovery.

Penny Fitzpatrick is a senior clinical negligence solicitor with Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

Slater and Gordon help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of cancer due to medical negligence. For a free consultation call our medical negligence solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.

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