Children and young people with cancer

3.37. Survival rates for children with cancer have doubled over the past 40 years, but because mortality has fallen for other conditions, cancer is now the biggest cause of premature death among children and young people aged 5-14 years. We will therefore develop and implement networked care to improve outcomes for children and young people with cancer, simplifying pathways and transitions between services and ensuring every patient has access to specialist expertise.

3.38. From 2019, we will begin to offer all children with cancer whole genome sequencing to enable more comprehensive and precise diagnosis, and access to more personalised treatments. This will reduce the use of harmful medications and interventions, support increased access to clinical trials and reduce the number of young patients who experience lifelong health problems caused by high doses of chemotherapy and Children and young people in England will also be amongst the very first in Europe to benefit from a new generation of CAR-T cancer therapies. And children who need proton beam therapy are now for the first time beginning to be able to access the most sophisticated modern precision treatment in the world here in the NHS without needing to travel abroad.

3.39. We will actively support children and young people to take part in clinical trials, so that participation among children remains high, and among teenagers and young adults rises to 50% by 2025. More effective consent processes for using data and tissue samples in research will contribute to improving survival outcomes. We will seek the views of patients aged under 16 to ensure the NHS continues to offer the very best services for children and young people. This will be used, alongside other cancer data, to inform service design and transformation.

3.40. From September 2019, all boys aged 12 and 13 will be offered vaccination against HPV-related diseases, such as oral, throat and anal cancer. This will build on the success of the girls’ programme, which has already reduced the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 and 18, the main cancer-causing types, by over 80%. This will reduce cervical and other cancers in both men and women in the future.

3.41. Children’s palliative and end of life care is an important priority for the NHS. But local NHS funding has not kept pace with growth in clinical care costs or inflation, and NHS England’s children’s hospice grant programme currently provides an annual contribution of £11 million. Over the next five years NHS England will increase its contribution by match-funding clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) who commit to increase their investment in local children’s palliative and end of life care services including children’s hospices. This should more than double the NHS support, from £11 million up to a combined total of £25 million a year by 2023/24.