No parent expects to outlive their child – yet, tragically, some do. And although it’s relatively rare, cancer is still single biggest killer of children.
A few weeks ago, Dr Antony Michalski, a Cancer Research UK-supported doctor from London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, came to our head office to give an engrossing talk about his experience of treating children with cancer.
It’s a fascinating and personal account of his years as a consultant, where he touches on the significant progress that’s been made, but also the huge challenges that remain to ensure as many children as possible survive, and go on to live productive lives:
In one way, the progress Dr Michalski talks about is astounding. The survival rate for children’s cancer has more than doubled since the 1960s and more children than ever are surviving their disease. Now almost three-quarters of children are cured, compared with around a quarter in the late 1960s.
But “we’re not even close to perfection” when it comes to treatment, he says. This is an issue we’ve written about before – the need to tackle long-term effects of treatment on those who survive. After all, a child who survives cancer has potentially decades of life ahead of them, and we need to make sure these are as happy, healthy and ‘normal’ as possible for them.
How can we do this? Dr Michalski says research is the answer, and we wholeheartedly agree. He’s a passionate advocate of laboratory research and the “great hope of molecular biology” in uncovering the answers we need to make treatment better.
Research is the driving force behind the improvements we’ve seen so far, and will undoubtedly be the driving force behind future advances.
We hope you are as inspired by Dr Michalski’s talk as we were. Please do share your thoughts and comments below.