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Expert urges support for children with cancer during Covid-19 pandemic

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Published on 22 April 2020

Lynzie Middleton
Lynzie Middleton

Lynzie Middleton is a senior lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Sunderland, an Honorary Clinical Pharmacist in Paediatric Oncology at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, and panel member of the Chemotherapy and Pharmacy Advisory Service.  She is involved in the research of cancer treatments and also teaches undergraduate Masters pharmacy students on Diseased systems: Principles of Oncology, Infection Control and Immunology. 

As well as research and teaching Lynzie works one day a week in practice, which allows her to see patients in the maintenance phase of their leukaemia treatment, to assess them and make alterations to their existing chemotherapy doses as well as prescribing supportive therapies and chemotherapy.

She said: “We have very much a team approach to treating patients. As a pharmacist you can have an awful lot of input into patient care. It is such an evolving area and there are always new treatments being developed and trialled which as a pharmacist you are involved in.

“The children and adolescents who I treat are immunocompromised and as a result are more susceptible to infections, which they are told about from the start of their treatment. It is essential that the patients I see carry on with their therapy, as the evidence shows that a reduction in their treatment could lead to relapse of their disease.

“Although there have been no clinical trials, data from China and Italy is showing that children with cancer are not suffering the severe effects of Covid-19. This is very different to adult patients, where some very difficult decisions about treatment are having to be made.”

While it is essential that the children’s treatment continues, Lynzie believes that it is the responsibility of everyone to contribute to the treatment of the most vulnerable people in society at the moment.

“We need people to stay at home.  These patients are shielding and so are the members of their household in the majority of cases.  When ordering online shopping, people should be considerate and think of these patients and families that are unable to leave the house.

“Also, we know that generally the number of children presenting to hospital unwell has dropped since the outbreak.  We need to be mindful of this, as we know late presentation in an oncological setting is often associated with adverse outcome.

“Don’t be afraid to contact the NHS if you feel your child needs treatment, we are here for you.”