Students from the Science Society at Cardiff School of Health Sciences, supported by the Biomedical Science department, recently helped organise a conference on the challenges facing children's cancer care in Wales.
Hosted at the University on International Childhood Cancer Day, the conference showcased innovative research and advancing therapies for childhood cancer in Wales with guest speakers including: Dr Lee Campbell, Cancer Research Wales, Dr Heidi Traunecker, Paediatric Oncology Wales, Dr Tom Jones, Bloodwise Charity.
Early diagnosis is a major challenge in the treatment of cancer patients in Wales as a whole and is even more of an acute problem in the treatment of childhood cancers, which tend to be rarer and have similar symptoms to other everyday common childhood diseases, which makes early diagnosis more difficult for GPs.
Cancer Research Wales is supporting research in Swansea into a simple, non-invasive blood test that could help GPs diagnose cancer with more speed and accuracy. Dr Campbell also highlighted the need for children's cancer treatment in Wales to be precise and targeted like image guided radiotherapy, in order to minimize damage during treatments.
Image guided approaches for radiotherapy increase precision when targeting tumour sites, which reduces the exposure of normal surrounding healthy tissue to raditation. Similar strategies are vital in the treatment of cancer in growing children as it minimizes radiation exposure to healthy spine and brain tissue, which will ensure a reduction of long lasting side-effects and problems with cognitive development .
Beirag Nazar, a Cardiff Met MSc Biomedical Science student and one of the event organisers said: "We felt it necessary to bring together leading experts and clinicians involved in Child Health to better evaluate some of the past and present challenges in treating childhood cancers."
"Through sharing our perspectives, experiences and knowledge, we as biomedical scientiests hope to generate the most effective tools and innovative ways to improve the battle against cancer in children."