Caring and curing: paediatric cancer services since 1960


Caring and curing: paediatric cancer services since 1960


Barnes E


European Journal Of Cancer Care




PedPal Lit


This paper traces the history of the specialist meanings of 'cure' in paediatric oncology in the UK, how they have changed with increasing organization of the discipline, ever-rising survival rates for all childhood cancers, and with feedback from patients and families. It examines the differing ways in which those involved in researching, treating, and raising funds for work on childhood cancers have understood and used the language of cure, and speculates as to why talking about the 'cure' of survivors of childhood cancers is so problematic. The paper discusses the particular importance of holistic care in the development of paediatric oncology. Psychosocial support is delivered alongside surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The focus for support is the patient's whole family, building a tenet of palliative care into curative treatment. The concept of the 'truly cured child' is argued to have been crucial in the discipline's decision in the 1970s and 1980s to make the psychosocial needs of patients a nd their families central in the programme of curing children with cancer.


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Barnes E, “Caring and curing: paediatric cancer services since 1960,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed August 17, 2022,

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