Overall childhood cancer survival rate in Yorkshire among the best in the world - Dr Dan Yeomanson

I’ve been working at Sheffield Children’s for almost 20 years, and I’ve been a consultant on our Cancer and Leukaemia Ward for more than a decade.

Consultant Paediatric Oncologist Dr Dan Yeomanson at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Consultant Paediatric Oncologist Dr Dan Yeomanson at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

I genuinely enjoy coming to work, it’s a fantastic place and there’s a great sense of camaraderie and friendship within our team. We all support each other to do the work we do.

My role involves looking after patients, I enjoy meeting them and helping make them better.

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On a simple level, that often means making it fun for children to come to hospital wherever I can.

It means making sure that symptoms and side-effects are well-managed, and that they have the best available treatment. Survival rates are continuing to improve – since I started at the Trust, 13 more children out of every 100 are surviving cancer in Yorkshire.

Our aim is always to get children back to the life they had before they were diagnosed with cancer or as close to it as we possibly can.

The ward at Sheffield Children’s sees between 90 and 100 patients every year from across South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and North Derbyshire as well as undertaking bone marrow transplants for patients from further afield. Around a third of our patients are children with leukaemia and the rest have solid tumours.

There are currently 75 children undergoing treatment now. Within Haematology, the most common condition we treat is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, which makes up around 90 per cent of our diagnoses, with the remaining 10 per cent Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

For Oncology, the most common conditions we see are Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, bone and brain tumours in teenagers, while kidney tumours and neuroblastoma, are more common in younger children.

The treatment offered at Sheffield Children’s includes chemotherapy for both inpatients and outpatients, surgery and high-dose chemotherapy for patients with solid tumours or leukaemia.

While on treatment, we try to keep our patients active and keep them engaged with their schools and friends as much as possible. When they’ve finished treatment, we focus on both rehabilitation and reintegration too.

We are one of 19 Principal Treatment Centres in the UK. This is a centre where a child will be diagnosed with cancer and their treatment plan decided. We work closely with a number of other centres to ensure that our patients receive an excellent standard of care, with the majority of their treatment being given here at Sheffield Children’s.

The overall childhood cancer survival rate in Yorkshire is among the best in the world, with 86 out of every 100 children diagnosed with the disease before their 15th birthday living for five years and many more.

That’s an important benchmark, as a child who lives beyond five years of diagnosis is considered to have been cured of their cancer, although in some children the disease does sadly recur. Twenty years ago, the comparable figure was 73 out of 100 children. That means for every 100 children, 13 are now surviving who would not have done so 20 years ago. This matches the best figures reported by countries around the world, including Australia and Canada.

This improvement is the result of a combination of factors, including clinical trials which are now often international, and allow us to identify stepwise improvements in treatment for rare conditions. There’s also the sharing of expertise across the world.

It is a huge team effort to deliver this standard of care. The Haematology and Oncology team is made up of consultants, specialist trainees, junior doctors, play specialists, advanced nurse practitioners, allied health professionals as well as a large team of ward-based nurses, ward and clinic clerks, healthcare assistants and the secretarial team. There’s also the research team. We also work with the Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics, Dental and Psychology Teams, while our outreach nursing team delivers care in patients’ homes where appropriate.

We have all been moved by the support from the public to transform the environment in which we deliver that care. Thanks to donations to The Children’s Hospital Charity, we have moved onto a new state-of-the-art ward.

It’s brilliant, complete with bright, open spaces, bigger bedrooms, views over Weston Park, a dedicated adolescent room, a new parent room and a bigger playroom. It’s a privilege to work here at Sheffield Children’s and I’m very proud to be a part of such a talented and dedicated team.