For GP's, nurses and health professionals to be trained in childhood cancer
Sophie was unwell in the months leading up to being diagnosed in September 2020, I contacted the GP surgery numerous times and the doctor saw Sophie once in the middle of August. Sophie had some of the red flags of childhood cancer – persistent nausea, persistent stomach pains and unexplained bleeding. She had a 12cm tumour which could be felt at the point she was diagnosed.
I didn’t know the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer and believed it was rare and therefore unlikely to ever happen. I now know that 1 in 320 children will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20. Each childhood cancer is rare (there is over 88 different subtypes) but collectively childhood cancer is not rare!
Childhood cancer is the NUMBER ONE killer of children under the age of 15 yet shockingly there is no training course for health professionals. There is some given during their training but once they qualify there is no training course on childhood cancer. The recent statistics show an average GP practice in the UK would expect to see a case of cancer in a child or young person every 1.8 years. We all know the sooner cancer is detected the better the outcomes. Time and time again we hear of stories of children having been repeatedly misdiagnosed. We believe that improved training of what to look out for along with the message that it isn’t rare will increase health professionals detecting it sooner.
We would like a national campaign for the public so that parents are aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for. You can find information on the signs and symptoms by looking on this website https://www.cclg.org.uk/spotchildcancer
My story is not unique, I have heard of so many stories of parents going back and forward to GPs, A and E and each time told their child had other reasons they could be poorly. We must start changing this especially when 53% of children are diagnosed through A and E (22% of adults are diagnosed through A and E by comparison). This statistic was prior to covid!
My advice to any parent is – you know your child better than anyone – if you think something isn’t right then keep insisting for them to be seen again, for tests etc. Listen to your gut instincts.
In Sophie's Legacy
Sophie wanted the following things changed and this will be her legacy in memory of a remarkable young girl who touched so many lives.