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Drive launched to tackle cancers in teenagers

Oncologists have launched a drive to tackle growing numbers of cancers in teenagers and young adults.

Cancer in these age groups has increased by 50 per cent in 30 years but survival rates are poor, they told a London conference. Among 15- to 29-year-olds, five-year survival rates had not changed for 25 years while they improved by 40 per cent in younger children.

Young adults with cancer were often not diagnosed quickly enough because GPs did not expect them to have cancer, the conference organised by the Teenage Cancer Trust heard.

New data show the incidence of teenage cancer has been rising by 1.2 per cent every year and six new cases are diagnosed every day. Although cancer is rare in this age group ­ with only 1,500 cases a year in England and Wales ­ it is the biggest killer after accidents.

Simon Davies, chief executive officer of the trust, said: 'It is common for us to hear there has been a misdiagnosis or a late diagnosis because GPs do not expect to see it and look for other problems first.'

Robert Grimer, consultant orthopaedic oncologist at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham, pointed out that delays in diagnosis of osteosarcoma were common because the symptoms were very non-specific. 'GPs need to be aware of this and refer patients immediately if they have symptoms such as pain and swelling of a bone or in the area of a bone,' he said.

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