They heard that, across the UK, there are around 1,800 children diagnosed with cancer every year and that since the early 1990’s, incidence rates for cancers in children across the UK have increased by around a quarter (24%).
Unfortunately, blood cancer affects a large number of people. Every 14 minutes, someone in the UK is told they have a blood cancer. That’s around 110 people per day, or 40,000 people per year. The most common cancers found in children are leukaemia, brain, intracranial tumours, and lymphomas which together account for around 75% of cancers diagnosed in children each year, with leukaemia being the most prevalent and whilst significant progress has been made over the last 50 years with regards to treatment, with mortality rates for cancers in children decreasing by 68% in the UK, childhood cancer continues to impact the lives of numerous families throughout Liverpool, causing immense physical and emotional hardship.
At the meeting, they were made aware of the diagnosis of acute myellid leukaemia in a three month old baby, Francis, who was born in Liverpool. We learned how three-month-old Francis urgently needs help. His parents received the heart-breaking news that their new baby has an aggressive form of blood cancer, and doctors have told them that a stem cell transplant is his only chance of a cure. Francis’ parents first spotted an unexplained bruise on his arm when he was just six weeks old and after blood tests failed to reveal anything abnormal, Francis eventually became incredibly ill and tired, until a bone marrow biopsy revealed that he had acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Francis’ AML is aggressive – his biopsy showed that his bone marrow was 80% cancer cells. Further health issues mean that Francis’ survival rate stands at 30%, but only if a suitable match for bone marrow is found.
For almost 50 years, Anthony Nolan has been providing cells for lifesaving transplant services to patients in the UK and around the world. As the world’s first stem cell donor register, launched in 1974, Anthony Nolan pioneered the use of HLA typing (a type of DNA sequencing) to match potential donors with patients in need of a transplant with the aim of providing the best possible outcome for patients like Francis.
Anthony Nolan also carries out ground-breaking research and funds clinical trials that could transform the future for more patients and provide the best experience for every patient before, during and after transplant. Anthony Nolan, named after the boy who inspired the creation of the stem cell register, launched the “Fight for Francis” campaign which aims to raise awareness of blood cancers in general and promote stem cell and bone marrow donation which provides life-saving treatment for both adults and children. It is of utmost importance that we do all that we can to signpost support and raise awareness about childhood cancer, encouraging vital research, advocating for access to treatment, and promoting initiatives that support affected families.
As a Council, we support and commend the Fight for Francis campaign as well as share our deepest concern for the children in Liverpool dealing with cancer and their families and the physical and emotional challenges they face and we want to raise awareness that will support childhood cancer research and treatment facilities. We actively encourage all residents, community organisations, and businesses to participate in the Fight for Francis campaign, and recognise the exceptional work done by organisations like Anthony Nolan and the pivotal role they play in providing bone marrow and stem cell transplants to cancer patients. If you are aged 16-30, you can give Francis, and others like him, a hope for a second chance by joining the stem cell register.
Saturday 2nd December is Anthony Nolan’s birthday, and Liverpool will light up public buildings in the colours of Anthony Nolan to raise awareness of the #FightForFrancis campaign, and encourage residents to join the donor register to help find a match and save the lives of people with blood cancer or blood disorders.