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75% of children with cancer 'must travel for care'

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Three out of four children with cancer have to travel to another city for treatment, according to a new report.

An analysis of data from almost 10,000 children and young people with cancer found they travel an average of 60 miles, up to five times a week.

Some families regularly spend more than two hours travelling to and from appointments that frequently last a short time.

The report - A Long Way From Home - was published by the charity Clic Sargent.

It said childhood cancer is so rare that treatment tends to be concentrated in 19 centres across the UK.

But while survival rates have improved and doctor expertise is concentrated in these centres, their locations mean youngsters have to travel hundreds of miles for treatment, sometimes for up to three years.

This can disrupt attendance at school as well as putting pressure on families who work or struggle with finances.

Lorraine Clifton, chief executive of Clic Sargent, said: “When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it can be devastating for the whole family.

“Travelling long distances to and from hospital day in, day out means that normal life stops: children can’t go to school, parents can’t go to work, and siblings’ lives are disrupted.

“Time in hospital is vital, but better coordination of hospital and community-based care is needed to help children with cancer spend less time on the road and more time at home, so they can keep up with school or work, friendships and everyday life.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “To ensure that children have access to the very best specialist care that is available to treat their cancer, in some cases this may require some families to travel.

“This will usually be at the nearest principal treatment centre (PTC) for children to where they live. However, these centres will have local shared care arrangements in place so that they can coordinate some of the care closer to the patient’s home and help to lessen travel burdens for those families affected.”

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