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Funding too low for paediatric oncology research

December 08, 2015

In Italy, it was the fragmentation of childhood cancer care which concerned doctors, with nearly 50 centres specialising in paediatric haematology and oncology, and a lack of co-ordination between research laboratories and clinics.   In comparison, Sweden has only six paediatric oncology units, which work closely together but, even there, there are problems of funding and a lack of experienced staff.   The UK expressed concern about the effects of health service cuts on children's cancer care, and the fact that infrastructure changes had moved paediatrics alongside the adult cancer model, meaning that research for children now has to compete for funds at a much more visible level with research for adults.

The authors also found large differences in the provision of information on childhood cancer, with variations in the involvement of parental organisations, the use of digital media, and the adoption of a common national standard for information provision.  "When a child is sick, the provision of accurate information to the patient and family is essential" said Professor Sullivan.  "We believe that the establishment of a European Common Information Portal could do much to tackle major deficiencies in information in countries with few or no patient organisations, or where the existence of a large number of languages make access to such information difficult."

The authors call for adequate long-term EU funding to support a Europe-wide clinical trials network for paediatric oncology.  "This is an essential prerequisite for the effective testing and dissemination of new therapies and techniques", said Professor Pritchard-Jones.   "We also need to study treatment outcomes, and for this the creation of a European Childhood Cancer Epidemiological Registry is essential.   With these tools we can maintain the enormous progress that has been made in the past.  Without them, we run the risk of jeopardising that progress and failing children who are dependent on us for their survival."

SOURCE ecancer