Today, Feb. 15, the global community celebrates the International Childhood Cancer Day to raise public awareness about childhood cancer and drum up support for children and adolescents with cancer, survivors and their families.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 400,000 children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years old are diagnosed with cancer each year.
“With access to quality care, more than 80 percent of children with cancer can survive, living full and healthy lives. However, many children in low-income and middle income countries do not receive or complete care, and, as a result, over 90 percent of childhood cancer deaths occur in low resource settings,” it said.
Among the most common types of childhood cancer are leukemia, brain cancer, lymphoma and solid tumours, such as neuroblastoma and Wilms tumours.
WHO noted that in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), an estimated 15 to 45 percent of children with cancer are cured.
It attributed the lower survival rates in LMICs to the following reasons: delay in diagnosis and advanced disease, an inability to obtain an accurate diagnosis, inaccessible therapy, abandonment of treatment, death from toxicity (side effects), and avoidable relapse.
It has been noted that at least 4,788 Filipino children are diagnosed with cancer annually.
“A global response is needed to give every child the best chance of surviving cancer free – to raise awareness, improve access, better understand why and where children are diagnosed with cancer through cancer registries, and offer the best possible treatment, palliative care and support for children and their families,” the WHO said.
“On International Childhood Cancer Day, we pause to recognize contributions from advocates around the world and call for renewed collaboration to care for children with cancer globally.”