Medical researchers are failing teenagers by not designing cancer treatment trials with this age group in mind, experts have claimed.
Research has found that just 16.6 per cent of 15 to 24-year-old patients joined clinical trials between April 2005 and March 2008, compared with 44.1 per cent of five to 14-year-old patients.
Dr Lorna Fern, from University College Hospital, London, warned delegates at a Teenage Cancer Trust conference that improvements in cancer treatment for this "overlooked" age group would "continue to stagnate" unless the situation changes.
The expert noted that some cancers have particularly poor accrual rates, with no young people over the age of 16 being recruited to cancer treatment trials for brain tumours until 2006/07 despite there being four trials open during the study period.
"Brain tumours are one of the commonest causes of cancer from which young people die and...the incidence of some types is rising," Dr Fern revealed.
"TYAs (teenagers and young adults) are constantly falling through the gap created by the tendency for paediatricians to treat the younger ages, and for the older ages to be treated in adult cancer wards," she warned.
"If we are to see improvements in the treatments and outcomes for TYAs with cancer, there needs to be closer dialogue between research groups when they are planning cancer trials."