Cancer in children is not something that happens in movies or to other people. In the U.S. 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20. Cancer is the top disease cause of death for children in the United States.
Average age a child is diagnosed with cancer is eight.
Children have done nothing to cause their cancer. They do not have "unhealthy lifestyles". They do not smoke cigarettes. They do not lack exercise. Children are the most vulnerable and innocent cancer victims.
Science can beat childhood cancer! Survival rates have increased from 58% in the mid 1970s to 85% today. There are ~500,000 pediatric cancer survivors living in the United States right now.
Since 1950, about 50 new cancer drugs were developed and approved for pediatric cancer. However, in 2020 alone 57 drugs were approved by the FDA for all forms of cancer.
While today's medicines are better than ever, there are new classes of cancer fighting therapies on the horizon. They cannot come quick enough.
In the meantime, cancer treatment involves debilitating chemotherapy, radiation and surgery that may leave survivors with life-long challenges.
The CDC and WHO expect about 15,000 children in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Globally, the number is closer to 400,000
The physical toll of pediatric cancer is extensive. The disease itself can present challenges and difficulties, but the treatments are sometimes debilitating. For example, chemotherapy can cause fatigue, nausea, infection, neuropathy and many other conditions. Fortunately there are therapies and medications that can help.
The isolation, anxiety and stress (physical and emotional) of a young cancer patient and their families can be intense. Studies show that relieving some of these burdens has a positive impact on outcomes. Support services, activities and technology all can be used to help on this front.
According to the NIH, the average cost of developing a single cancer drug is $648 million. On average, it takes over 7 years from the time the drug is first discovered until the drug is approved for use.
The median cost in the US of treating a child with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is about $400,000. Even with insurance there are substantial out-of-pocket expenses for families.
The Federal budget in 2023 is $6.2 trillion.
The US Government spends a total of $5.2 billion on cancer research.
Only $195 million (<4%) is directed to pediatric cancer research. This is 0.003% of the federal budget.
The U.S. has some of the best cancer care in the world, but it is expensive and it needs to progress faster.
The costs of researching and then treating cancer are mostly borne by the private sector and individuals. Families facing the diagnosis of a child with cancer will need a lot of help.
National Center for Education Statistics; American Society of Clinical Oncology; US Food & Drug Administration; Anticancer Drugs Approved...T. Olivier MD, A. Haslam PhD, V. Prasad MD Dec. 14, 2021; US Center for Disease Control; World Health Organization; National Institutes of Health; J Consult Clin Psychol. 1992 Aug; American Cancer Society; Congressional Budget Office; USA.GOV