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Manchester Foundation
Trust Charity

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Prof Rob Wynn

Thursday 01st September 2022

Professor Rob Wynn is a Consultant Haematologist and Director of the Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Programme at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Here, he speaks about some of his work in paediatric cancer treatments for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month…

Some the stories the Charity is sharing for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, like Hughie’s and John’s, are about children with ALL – acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

This type of cancer is one of the more common ones for children and thankfully most children are treated with chemotherapy and then cured of ALL. In the 1960s, this wasn’t the case, and sadly many children died, so the treatment has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. It’s a real success story.

This progress can only be made with clinical trials and when medical professionals collaborate and learn from each other – those two things are what make the real difference.

The best example of this is paediatric ALL. It wasn’t about developing the drugs, it was about using them in the right way and collaborating together to see where things could be changed to make improvements.

This was exactly the case for John who was able to access treatment at a specialist centre. When we were at Pendlebury, and now at the Oxford Road Campus, we get children from all over the UK coming to use our services and take part in clinical trials because we are a specialist centre for childhood cancers.

For most kids with ALL we have a treatment plan that works and they’re soon cured. But the emphasis is on “most”. There are a small number for who the normal treatment plans don’t work, and for them we have to look at new drugs and new treatment therapies. It’s important to put these treatment in the right contexts and find out what is best for each individual.

Of course, when you say most kids are treated relatively easily, that’s no consolation to the families of those who aren’t cured. And that’s where the research that we do comes in and is so important. We want to know why those children aren’t responding to the normal course of action and, more importantly, what we need to do to address that.

Clinical trials are an important part of this process and we currently have a trial on with children from Leeds, Sheffield, Oxford…..from all over the country. It’s about gathering a lot of information and testing different approaches.

The rewarding part of my job is curing children like John – it’s very rewarding to see. Especially seeing them grown up and doing so well in life now.

But we want more Johns in the world – more children who have cancer and go on to be cured and live normal, healthy lives. We want this for both children and for adults, as sadly adult leukaemias don’t have the same success rates that paediatrics does. A 100% success rate will always be the goal.

You can also read more about Rob Wynn’s work in last year’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month story.

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