10,000 children living with cancer

Salisbury Journal: GPs have been urged to ensure children with cancer get the best possible follow-up care GPs have been urged to ensure children with cancer get the best possible follow-up care

Almost 10,000 children in the UK are currently living with cancer, figures suggest.

Data from Macmillan Cancer Support and the National Cancer Intelligence Network shows around a fifth more boys than girls are affected by the disease.

Among all those with cancer, from babies up to the age of 14, 47% were diagnosed at least five years ago.

The most commonly diagnosed cancer in children is leukaemia, accounting for almost a third of new cases a year.

Earlier this week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also published figures on childhood cancer, showing five-year survival has gradually increased from 66.6% in 1990 to 81.3% in 2006.

Macmillan said children with cancer are often left at increased risk of other illnesses, including p roblems with growth and development and heart and lung conditions. Some develop secondary cancers.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "This research shows us for the first time how many children are living with cancer in the UK. While many children will go on to survive their diagnosis, we know the impact of cancer does not stop when treatment ends.

"More must be done to support the thousands of children living with cancer in the UK. Far too often they end up lost in the healthcare system and are not receiving appropriate and timely follow-up care.

"Adult specialists and GPs need to know how to manage the side-effects and lifestyle changes that can affect those treated as children."

Dr Michael Peake, clinical lead for the National Cancer Intelligence Network, said: "To my knowledge this is the first time such data have been available in the world and it certainly quantifies the burden children with cancer and their families have to bear. It will also help support the NHS to plan how it should deliver the optimum level of expert care for these children as they grow up."

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