Youth Cancer

Cancer is the most common cause of non-accidental death in teenagers and young adults in the UK.

Sarah's Story

Cancer is the most common cause of non-accidental death in teenagers and young adults in the UK.

Every single day in the UK, 7 young people aged between 13 and 24 will be told that they have cancer. That is 7 yesterday, 7 today, 7 tomorrow… and their lives will change forever.

Cancer in 13-24-year-olds comes in many forms and treatments may vary. It can behave differently, sometimes striking in rarer, more complex and dangerous forms which may require harsh regimes of treatment to help save lives. Research is making a huge impact and nearly three-quarters of British teenagers and young adults who develop cancer, now survive the illness.

Jacob's Story

The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust supports measures to improve the quality of life for teenage cancer patients during their frequent and debilitating stays in hospitals. Teenagers are an age group onto themselves and require occupational and social activities to help keep up their motivation.

Achievements

Statistics

Never doubt the value of research.

It is because of research that cancer survival rates continue to increase.

01

Every day in the UK

Every day in the UK, seven young people aged 13 to 24 are told they have cancer.

02

Cancer is the number one cause

Cancer is the number one cause of non-accidental death in young adults in the UK.

03

Cancer before they are 20

One in 312 males and one in 361 females will get cancer before they are 20.

04

One in 450 chance of developing cancer

Boys up to the age of 15 have a one in 450 chance of developing cancer, rising to one in 208 by the time they reach 24.

05

One in 517 chance of developing cancer

Girls up to the age of 15 have a one in 517 chance of developing cancer, rising to one in 239 by the time they reach 24.

06

Different cancers predominate at different ages

Different cancers predominate at different ages: leukaemia, lymphomas and brain tumours in 13 to 18 year-olds, and lymphomas, carcinomas (soft tissue cancers) and germ cell tumours (e.g. testicular cancer) in 19 to 24-year-olds.

07

Increasing cancer survival for young people

Nearly three-quarters of British teenagers and young adults who develop cancer now survive cancer. The greatest increase in survival rates is for leukaemia, which has risen by over 20% over the last 20 years.

08

Young people get some of the most aggressive cancers

Young people get some of the most aggressive cancers. But because only 0.5% of all cancers occur in young people, they are often misdiagnosed initially. This decreases their chances of survival and can mean they are excluded from clinical trials.

*Office for National Statistics.

ABOUT CANCER

Cancer affects 1 in 3 of us in our lifetime, with a new diagnosis every two minutes in the UK. Cancer can strike at any age, but it is more likely to occur in older people. Some cancers, however, including but not limited to leukaemia (cancer of white blood cells) and osteosarcoma (a bone cancer) are more likely to affect younger people.

Cancer refers to any illness resulting from a body's own cells growing out of control which can lead to the growth of a lump called a tumour or too many cells being produced. There are over 200 types of cancer, each with different causes, treatments and symptoms.

These tumours can be either benign or malignant:

  • Benign (non-cancerous) - these are tumours that are unable to spread elsewhere in the body, may grow more slowly and are often surrounded by an outer layer. They only become a problem if they grow too big and press on surrounding organs or change how the organ works.
  • Malignant (cancerous) - these tumours are able to spread to other parts of the body, they are usually not surrounded by an outer layer and invade into other tissue and may grow faster.

WHAT CAUSES CANCER?

We still don't know what causes most cancers. Scientists researching cancer want to find out how cells grow, divide and survive. It is absolutely vital that we continue to support research projects, to help us understand how cancers form and how they grow out of control, leading to improved cancer treatments, better patient care and a higher survival rate.

We do know that there are certain factors that increase your risk of developing cancer, such as smoking and staying in the sun for long periods of time. Rarely cancers can be inherited or passed on genetically. It is thought that only 1 in 10 cancers are caused by this.

HOW IS CANCER TREATED?

Treatment depends on the type of cancer, where it is in the body and at what stage it is when diagnosed. There are three commonly used treatments:

  • Surgery - the removal of the cancer under anaesthetic, which can include organs or the amputation of limbs
  • Chemotherapy - anti-cancer drugs to destroy the cancer cells
  • Radiotherapy - high energy x-ray treatment

Combinations of treatments can also be used depending on the type of cancer and what stage it’s at.

The research that we are currently funding at the University of Huddersfield would ultimately add an extra option to these treatment options.

TYPES OF CANCER

Cancer of the bone

Most likely to affect: Leg and arm bones and the pelvis

Most common types: Osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma

Most common symptom: Pain

Causes: Unknown

Tests: X-rays, scans & biopsies

Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery

There are a number of different types of bone cancer but the ones that young people are most likely to develop are osteosarcomas and Ewing's sarcoma. We don't know what causes them but we do know that the bones that tend to be affected are the leg and arm bones and the pelvis. The most common symptoms are pain and/or swelling around the bone. The tests that are done to diagnose it are scans, x-rays and biopsies and the treatments that are given are chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery; often a combination of these treatments is given.

Soft tissue Sarcomas

Most likely to affect: The limbs - most likely around the knee, the chest, abdomen and pelvis - and head and neck

Common types: Rhabdomyosarcomas, synovial sarcomas & fibrosarcomas

Most common symptom: A painless lump or swelling

Causes: Unknown

Tests: Biopsies, x-rays, scans, blood tests

Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery

Soft tissue sarcomas are cancers of our supportive tissue which includes muscles, cartilage, fat cells and blood vessels. The areas of the body that they usually affect are the legs and arms, the chest, pelvis and the head and neck area. There are lots of different types but the ones that commonly affect young people are rhabdomyosarcomas, synovial sarcomas & fibrosarcomas. The first symptom is usually a painless lump or swelling. The cause is unknown. The tests which diagnose it are biopsy, x-rays, scans and blood tests. The treatment can be chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery and, depending on the type and what is involved a combination of treatments are often given.

Brain tumours

Most likely to affect: The brain's supporting cells & the cerebellum (back part of the brain)

Symptoms: Headaches, feeling sick, drowsiness and fits

Causes: Unknown

Tests: CT & MRI scans and biopsies

Treatment: Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy & steroids

There are a few different types of brain tumour, the more common ones in young people being astrocytomas and ependymomas, which both start in the supportive tissue of the brain. The most common symptoms are headaches, feeling sick, drowsy and fits. The symptoms experienced depend on where tumour is in the brain. The cause is unknown. The tests that are done to diagnose it are CT & MRI scans & biopsies. Brain tumours are treated with surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and steroids and depending on the type, and where it is, a combination of these treatments may be given.

Malignant Melanoma

Most likely to affect: Skin on legs, back or chest

Symptoms: Strange looking mole with an irregular border

Causes: Ultra Violet (UV) rays from the sun and sun beds

Tests: Biopsy

Treatment: Surgery

Melanoma is a quite a rare type of skin cancer, although it is becoming more common in teenagers and young adults. It usually starts as a weird-looking mole. It is called 'melanoma' because it starts in skin cells called melanocytes that make a pigment (colouring) called melanin. Melanin is what gives your skin its colour the more melanin that these cells make, the darker your skin will be. A mole is a group of these cells that make lots of melanin. This looks like a dark patch on your skin.

Most melanomas develop on the skin on the legs, chest or back. In rare cases, people can get them in other parts of the body. There is also a type that loses its pigment and can look white on your skin.

The main cause of melanoma is ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or sun beds, which can really harm your skin. Most melanomas in young people are found very early when they are still very thin and in the surface layers of the skin. At this early stage the chance of cure is very high. Usually, just removing the melanoma with surgery will cure you.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Affects: Lymph glands in the neck, head, throat, chest & abdomen

Symptoms: Painless, swollen glands

Causes: Unknown

Tests: Biopsies, CT & MRI scans

Treatment: Chemotherapy & occasionally radiotherapy

Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of our immune system and is made up of a network of lymph vessels and glands as well as a number of organs. The most common symptoms are painless, swollen lymph glands. The glands that are most likely to be affected are those in the neck, throat, chest and abdomen. The cause is unknown. The tests that are done to diagnose NHL are biopsy, CT and MRI scans. There are a few different types of NHL and the biopsy provides information about the type. Treatment depends on the type you have but usually includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Hodgkin's Disease

Most likely to affect: Lymph glands in the neck, armpit, groin & chest

Symptoms: Painless, swollen glands

Causes: Unknown

Tests: Biopsies, CT & MRI scans

Treatment: Chemotherapy & radiotherapy

Hodgkins disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of our immune system and is made up of a network of lymph vessels and glands, as well as a number of organs. The most common symptoms are painless, swollen glands; the glands most likely to be affected are those in the neck, armpit, groin and chest. The cause is unknown. The tests that are done to diagnose Hodgkins disease are biopsy, CT and MRI scans. The treatment is chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia

Most likely to affect: White blood cells and the bone marrow

Most common symptoms: Feeling tired, bruising, being prone to infection

Causes: Not yet known, but infection may play a part

Tests: Blood tests, bone marrow sample, lumbar puncture, chest x-ray

Treatment: Intensive chemotherapy

We have a few different types of white cells which help us fight infection and disease. ALL is a cancer of one of these white cells, the lymphoid cells. The most common symptoms are feeling tired, bruising and being prone to infection. Some people may also experience pain in their bones. The cause is unknown. Blood tests, bone marrow samples and lumbar punctures are the tests that are used to diagnose ALL. Treatment includes chemotherapy, steroids and radiotherapy.

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia

Affects: White blood cells and the bone marrow

Most common symptoms: Feeling tired, bruising, being prone to infection

Causes: Unknown

Tests: Blood tests, bone marrow sample, lumbar puncture, chest x-ray

Treatment: Chemotherapy and possibly stem cell transplant

White cells help us fight infection and disease and AML is a cancer of one type of these white cells, the myeloid cells. The most common symptoms are feeling tired, bruising, being prone to infection and, for some, pain in their bones. The cause is unknown. Blood tests, bone marrow sample and a lumbar puncture are the tests which will be done to diagnose AML. The treatment includes chemotherapy, steroids and radiotherapy.

Testicular Cancer

Affects: The testicles and the lymph nodes (found in the abdomen)

Most common symptom: Terratomas in teenagers

Causes: A painless lump or swelling in the testicles

Tests: Ultrasounds & blood tests

Treatment: Surgery (the main one) & chemotherapy

The two main types of testicular cancer are teratomas and seminomas; teratomas tend to affect younger men. The symptoms include a painless lump or swelling in the testicles. The tests that are used to diagnose it are ultrasound and blood tests. The cause is unknown. The main treatment is surgery but chemotherapy may also be given.

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