Better care for young cancer patients at diagnosis

It’s been two months since we launched our #BestChance report on delayed diagnosis calling for change in the health and care system to give young cancer patients the best chance. Tweet or email your MP and support our Day of Action on Tuesday 12 April. 

Better care for young cancer patients at diagnosis

Support our Day of Action

Best Chance Day of Action – Tuesday 12 April

Here are two ways you can support our Best Chance Day of Action on 12 April:

Our Best chance from the start report found that 52% of young people surveyed visited their GP at least three times before their cancer was diagnosed. Almost half of GPs we surveyed (46%) ranked lack of training as a top barrier in identifying cancer in young people.

We want health professionals to have more support to identify cancer in children and young people earlier. Please support our campaign by tweeting your MP and taking part in our research.

Get involved in the campaign 

Year two of the campaign will look at what helps young cancer patients and their families to remain resilient during treatment. If you are a young person or parent of a child who has or has had cancer we would be very keen to speak to you as part of our research. For more information on taking part and to receive updates from CLIC Sargent campaigns, email or visit our research page.

Research findings

  • Nearly half (44%) of young people felt their GP did not take their concerns seriously and a third (36%) of parents felt their GP did not take into account their knowledge of their child. 
  • Just over a third (34%) of young people and a quarter of parents (25%) felt that their GP did not have enough time to listen to them talk about their symptoms.
  • Over half (52%) of the young people we asked visited their GP at least three times before their cancer diagnosed.
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of the young people we asked visited their GP five times or more before they were diagnosed.
  • A third (34%) of parents and just over half of young people (53%) felt their diagnosis was delayed. Of those, almost half felt that this perceived delay impacted on their prognosis. They also reported losing trust in their GP.
  • Experiences prior to diagnosis can also impact on families emotionally. Nearly one in five parents (16%) felt that their child’s ability to cope had been affected by their experience of the health system prior to diagnosis and just under a third (31%) of young people agreed.
  • Almost half of GPs polled (46%) told us that lack of training opportunities is a barrier to identifying childhood cancer and more than half (57%) said discussions about specific cases with experts, such as paediatric specialists, would help them to identify the need to investigate whether a child or young person had cancer.

Key Recommendations

  • Health ministers should commit to publishing a statement of the impact that routes to diagnosis, in particular emergency admission after A&E attendance rather than GP referral, have on the survival rates of children with cancer aged 0 to 14 within the next two years.
  • Health education bodies should create a children and young people’s primary care workforce development plan, which seeks to ensure that all GPs are offered greater opportunities to gain experience of children and young people’s health during their initial training.
  • Commissioners and providers in the health system should work with the voluntary sector and professional bodies to develop training programmes that provide continuing professional development opportunities for GPs and other primary care professionals in children and young people’s cancer. They should also support access to education and knowledge exchange sessions with those who work with children and young people.