7 March 2016

Kathy Pritchard JonesIn a study led by Professor Kathy Pritchard-Jones, Chief Medical Officer of London Cancer, it has been found that the UK diagnoses Wilms’ tumours – the most common children’s kidney cancer – at a later stage than Germany. It was found that Wilms’ tumours diagnosed in the UK were one and a half times bigger than those diagnosed in Germany.

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK, compared statistics for more than 1,500 children diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour and treated in the UK and Germany between 2002 and 2011. GP records were also reviewed to see how Wilms’ tumours were detected in 360 children from Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

Different childhood healthcare systems in both countries are predicted by the researchers to be the reason behind this late diagnosis. In the UK GPs are the first port of call for a parent who is concerned about their child whereas in Germany children are looked after by paediatricians who work in the community and children have many more routine health checks in early childhood.

Professor Kathy Pritchard-Jones said: “Our study shows that the UK is diagnosing children with Wilms’ tumours at a later, more advanced stage than our German counterparts. Finding cancers at an early stage means that treatment is more likely to be successful and have fewer side effects, but the way the UK health system looks after children means we’re missing chances for earlier detection. This could affect children’s health not just in cancer but across the board. We need further consideration of how paediatric expertise in primary care for children can be strengthened and further research to see if we could be giving more children a better chance.”

Read the full study in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.