Continuing to tackle cancer in the wake of the pandemic

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An update from Dr Madhumita Dandapani, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist & Clinical Associate Professor at CBTRC

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, research, diagnosis, treatment and caring for our patients, has remained at the heart of CBTRC. As we emerge from the pandemic peak and into the 'new normal', we are also looking into the impact that the pandemic has had on children's cancer services.

Thanks to donations and funding from generous supporters like you, we have been able to take a lead role in examining the effect that the pandemic has had on diagnosing children with brain tumours. 


Headsmart campaign

Following on from our successful Headsmart campaign, which halved the diagnosis times for children with brain tumours, we are now leading a major new study in collaboration with other children’s cancer charities, Child Cancer Smart. Aligned to this, Dr Dandapani (Clinical Associate Professor at CBTRC) along with Emeritus Professor David Walker launched a multi-Centre exercise to examine whether the Covid-19 pandemic has caused additional diagnostic delays for children with cancer. With participation from Nottingham, Leeds and Edinburgh, data has been collected to examine the length of time it has taken a child to receive a cancer diagnosis.   

So far, we haven't discovered any significant statistical evidence to indicate a delay in diagnosing children with brain tumours. However, we have only received data from the first wave of the pandemic and we are expecting an update about the second wave later in the year. 


The second wave of Covid-19 

The increased testing and associated self-isolation requirements during the second wave, for both staff and patients, had a considerable impact on services.   

Alongside this, the reduction of face-to-face appointments with GPs and a reluctance to overburden primary care, may have caused children with lower grade tumours to have gone undetected for longer.   

Children with such tumours can compensate for symptoms like change in vision or balance, and therefore may not have come to the attention of specialists.   

There is emerging data from adult services that delays in diagnosis have occurred and even though we do not have full data from the second wave, we recognise that we now need to plan for such an eventuality. Our research will form an important part in supporting this plan.

It's thanks to you, our supporters, this this important research is taking place. No one should wait longer than they need to for a cancer diagnosis. If you would like to further support CBTRC, you can donate directly or fundraise for us.