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Young cancer sufferers “facing delays in diagnosis”

10 June 2008

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Young cancer sufferers have to put up with extended delays in receiving a diagnosis, experts have warned.

Cancer ought to be the top possibility in those presenting with symptoms and not the last resort, they added.

Two studies presented to the Teenage Cancer Trust’s conference in London revealed the extent of delays faced by teenagers and young adults before they see a specialist.

Tim Eden, professor of cancer in teenagers and young adults at the University of Manchester, unveiled one study which found that the time lapse between a child presenting with symptoms and diagnosis ranged from four to 184 weeks in the UK.

A second study found a range of two to 192 weeks, suggesting long delays before health professionals recognise something is wrong.

Prof Eden said: “It would appear that when we compare these data with studies of children with cancer, teenagers and young adults do face greater delays in diagnosis, particularly for bone and brain tumours and Hodgkin lymphoma.

“Interventions are being explored, both to educate the public, and young people in particular, to seek help for worrying symptoms and to empower them to push for referral to specialists.

“However, it would seem to be more important to raise awareness amongst professionals to recognise worrying signs and to trigger them to be more rapid in their response.”

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Teenage Cancer Trust