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10 May 2012

Teenagers and Young People with Cancer Supported by Generous Donation

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) has been given £1.08 million from Macmillan Cancer Support to fund work designed to address the aftercare needs of teenagers and young people (TYA) with cancer in the South West.

The three year programme of work, called ON TARGET is supported by Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire Cancer Services Network and will be delivered by a team at UH Bristol, the principal treatment centre for TYA with cancer in the South West.

The first stage of the programme will be to work with TYA patients, their families and professionals involved in their care to understand their needs and wishes. These findings will then be evaluated and used to inform the design of specific packages of care to be introduced to patients as early as possible after diagnosis.  Themes of care packages are likely to be: healthy lifestyle and physical rehabilitation; education, employment and finance; emotional and psychological wellbeing; survivor information and peer support, and parent and carer support.

Working in collaboration with clinicians already involved in the care of young people with cancer across the South West, the programme will be delivered by a multidisciplinary team including a programme manager, psychologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist and care coordinator.

Professor Mike Stevens, director of the ON TARGET team, says: "When a 17 or 18 year old is first diagnosed with cancer it radically changes how they look at their life. They can easily become socially isolated; their body image changes and there is a major impact on social and sexual relationships and on education and career plans. The challenge then becomes not just how to give young people the best chance of a cure, but how also to help them preserve or redesign their life trajectory.

"The aim of ON TARGET is to create a care system that will support them towards the achievement of a life as it would have been lived without the intrusion of cancer, or as the patient has decided to recreate it after experiencing and assessing the impact of the diagnosis and its treatment."

The programme will  involve patients aged 16 to 24 years with all forms of cancer and lessons learned from the programme will be used to guide the development of aftercare within the South West TYA service and will be offered for national dissemination.

Maggie Crowe, Development Manager for Macmillan, says: "Macmillan is delighted to be working with this team of experts on such an exciting programme. Traditional follow up care has not met the needs of this patient group. By working together with teenagers and young adults affected by cancer we can enable them to be more in control of their own needs and follow up."