September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Each year, around 4,000 children develop cancer. It’s estimated that around one child in every 500 will be diagnosed with the disease by age 14, and the incidence has increased in recent decades by around 13%, according to a recent report published in the Lancet.
One of the greatest medical success stories is the growth in survival rates. Fifty years ago, only a quarter of children diagnosed with cancer were likely to survive, Today, more than 80 per cent of young patients can be treated successfully. The survival rates for childhood leukaemia, for example, are now much higher than they were just a few years ago.
However, with the incidence of cancer rising, more work will need to be done. Research into childhood cancers attracts a tiny proportion of the money available from big funders because of its relative rarity. Based on data collected by the National Cancer Research Institute, out of the total spent on research, just 3%, or £83m, is spent on childhood cancers. Yet as a cause of death in children, cancer heads the list.
Currently, clinical trials are being held in 21 children’s cancer treatment centres across the UK, with work being done on a wide range of programmes including research into personalised drugs that block faulty genes, newer more targeted treatments that have fewer side effects, and the development of advanced radiotherapy techniques.
How charities are helping
Many charities who work to raise awareness of childhood cancer mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month every September by encouraging supporters to wear a gold ribbon, the internationally-recognised symbol for childhood cancer. They are asking individuals, schools and workplaces across the UK to help fund their vital work both in supporting research and in providing children diagnosed with cancer and their families with the help and support they need.
Teens Unite Fighting Cancer, a charity based in Broxbourne, is dedicated to improving the lives of young people aged 13-24 with cancer, and was our Charity of the Year in 2015. This charity remains the only one in the UK that provided specific help to teenagers who have had to take time out of school, work, college or university to have treatment. They plan to build a large purpose-built home which will be open all year round to teens and their families in need of a respite break. So, if you would like to play your part in fighting childhood cancer this September, then you can donate here.