Henry Smith MP welcomes launch of Children & Young People Cancer Taskforce

Henry Smith MP has welcomed the Government joining up with clinicians, charities and patient groups to combat childhood cancer through a new taskforce.
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The Children & 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.

Henry said: “I welcome this enhanced focus on cancer affecting children and young people. I trust that my colleague, Dame Caroline Dinenage, will bring together distinguished figures from medicine, science, NHS and Government to secure improvements for patients and their families.

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“With the technology at our disposal we must utilise this to ensure people with cancer can access personalised therapies and medicines.

Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017
Henry Smith - UK Parliament official portraits 2017

“There will barely be a family in Crawley which hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way and our country’s best and brightest will continue to play a key role in improving treatments and helping people get diagnosed earlier.”

While rare, cancer is the leading cause of death in children aged one 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.

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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 AI 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 & Social Care, NHS England, the Office for Life Sciences, as well as appointees from the wider clinical community.

The Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Victoria Atkins, commented: "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.

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“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.

“I am pleased we have such a respected figure as Dame Caroline leading the discussions and we look forward to working with all those on the taskforce to make child cancer care faster, simpler and fairer for all.

“Fairness was also the theme of this year’s World Cancer Day on Sunday, which shone a light on inequalities in cancer care across the globe.

“Through targeted lung cancer screening focusing on deprived areas, and prostate cancer screening trials with an emphasis on black men, we’re targeting the disparities that exist at home, making sure everyone can access first class cancer care.The Chair of the Taskforce, Dame Caroline Dineage, said: "A few years ago, I met Charlotte Fairall, whose daughter Sophie had died from Rhabdomyosarcoma. She identified a number of improvements, big and small, that would have made a difference. Since then we have met with experts from a range of fields, as well as numerous other parents.

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“It’s an honour to be asked to chair the Children & Young People Cancer Taskforce, bringing together key figures who can make progress across three key areas; genomics, detection and diagnosis, and research and innovation.

“There is an abundance of expertise and enthusiasm amongst researchers, clinicians and campaigners. My role is to harness this energy to drive action to improve outcomes for children and young people with cancer.”