The impact of cancer on young people during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Teenage Cancer Trust has published a report, Cancer x coronavirus: the impact on young people, exploring the opinions of young people with cancer on how their care has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to contending with isolation caused by lockdown, the closure of schools and universities, and furlough or loss of employment, many young people with cancer are considered clinically extremely vulnerable and have had to practice shielding. Young people with cancer have also experienced difficulty accessing or delays in testing, treatment, and support.

The report states, ‘Young people with cancer are different from children and older adults with cancer… They have specific emotional needs due to their stage of physical and emotional development. Coupled with a cancer diagnosis, this can present a set of unique challenges.’

The report makes a number of recommendations on the following aspects of the care of young people with cancer:

  • supporting the needs of young people with cancer holistically
  • helping young people with cancer make informed decisions about returning to school or work
  • clear communication with young people with cancer, with charity involvement in guidance development
  • emergency funding for teenage and young adult cancer care
  • teenage- and young adult-specific recovery plans.

The report calls for increased government funding to protect NHS services for young people with cancer, and highlights that there remains ‘considerable work to do’ in making the draft Service Specifications for Teenage and Young Adult Cancer in England, which are due to be ratified this year, fit for purpose.