It is devastating to hear that any family member has cancer. It is especially heartbreaking when the loved one who receives this diagnosis is a child, which is why September has been declared Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
While the statistics are grim, it is important to print them so we all know how critical it is to continue to fund research and treatment centers for both the children and their families.
Some facts about childhood cancer:
- Every day, 43 children are diagnosed, and 12% of them will not survive.
- The average age at which children are diagnosed is six years.
- It does not discriminate ethnic, gender, or socio-economic status.
- Over 40,000 children receive treatment each year.
- 60% of children who survive suffer from “late-effects,” including infertility, heart failure, and different types of cancer.
- There are about 375,000 adult survivors in the United States, which equates to 1 in 530 people aged 20-39.
However, there has been progress made over the last 50 years. Since the 1960s, the overall survival rate has leaped from 10% to 90%. But some forms of childhood cancer still have survival rates that are much lower.
And sadly, for the past 20 years, nearly 16,000 families every year have received the terrible news that their child has cancer. To put it another way, the annual number of diagnosed cases of childhood cancer has not decreased over the last two decades.
As if there was a need for more evidence that there is still loads of work to be done, note that over the aforementioned previous 20 years, three cancer medications designed specifically for children have been approved. Only three.
While much of the data above is heart wrenching, there is hope for a cure to all childhood cancers because of the tireless work of doctors, researchers and volunteers alike. And organizations like CureSearch for Children’s Cancer lead the way in providing support to families as well as various opportunities for education and involvement for the community.
While it is a shame that September needs to be declared Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, it does highlight the progress that has been made and is likely to come in the future.