Treating teenage cancer
Tim Eden is professor of teenage and young adult cancer at the University of Manchester, and he is the personal hero of Fionnuala Finnerty, who is thrilled to interview him
While 65% of cancers occur in people over the age of 65, surveys have shown that young people do not want to be treated in a unit with much older patients. Neither do they wish to be treated with very young children.
No definite evidence has been found to show that treatment in a specialised unit increases survival, but it did for children. We believe that treating teenagers and young adults in a unit run by expert staff increases the quality of life. Serious illness during adolescence considerably disrupts education, peer support, self development, and self esteem. Initially, it also drags patients back into more controlling family life when they have been becoming independent and finding their own feet in the world.
These data should be interpreted with caution. Major advances in survival have taken place in paediatric oncology and in some adult cancers—for example, breast and bowel cancer. There