Cancer In Children: A Huge Gap In Five-year Survival

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Cancer In Children: A Huge Gap In Five-year Survival
Cancer In Children: A Huge Gap In Five-year Survival
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Cancer in children: a huge gap in five-year survival

Cancer develops in 429,000 children and adolescents each year. The vast majority (384,000) of them live in developing countries, according to Pediatric Cancer Research published in a special issue of the journal Science. Scientists have found a striking inequality between cancer survival in children from developed and developing countries - more than 80% and less than 30%, respectively.

Cancer in children: a huge gap in five-year survival
Cancer in children: a huge gap in five-year survival

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Cancer develops in 429,000 children and adolescents each year. The vast majority (384,000) of them live in developing countries, according to Pediatric Cancer Research published in a special issue of the journal Science. Scientists have found a striking inequality between cancer survival in children from developed and developing countries - more than 80% and less than 30%, respectively.

Ineffective treatment is common in poor countries, due in part to lack of or misdiagnosis, unavailability or discontinuation of treatment, and death due to toxins. And the main reasons for the refusal of patients from treatment are poverty, the cost of treatment, and remoteness from cancer centers.

According to the study, simple measures such as providing free meals and temporary housing will help improve global survival rates.

These methods help prevent treatment abandonment and “raise the rate by 23 percentage points - from about 25% to 48% - to complete elimination,” said study co-author Scott Howard, secretary general of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology Oncology). "In key centers in Recife, Brazil, rejections dropped from 16% to 0%, in El Salvador from 20% to 2% and in Ethiopia from 95% to 30%, similar sharp cuts [occurred] in many parts of the world."

Such interventions will contribute to the WHO target of 60% survival for all children diagnosed with cancer by 2030. According to the report, the current global survival rate is about half that (32%).

“Too often, rejection is mistaken for a parent's fault. But if the entire system does not invest in enough nurses or doctors who know how to treat children with cancer, or even drugs or technology, then it becomes a constant cycle of wasted resources and wasted opportunities, "said the first author of the study, Catherine Catherine Lam, an oncologist at St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis.

The global supply of high-quality drugs is also a major concern. Catherine Lam points to problems with asparaginase, the most important drug for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (the most common cancer in children). In 2017, Brazilian researchers found that a cheaper generic is not only less bioactive, but also increases the risk of immunity-related side effects. The drug has been suspended in Brazil, but it is still being produced and distributed in other countries around the world.

11% of children with cancer live in high-income countries, and many of them participate in scientific and clinical trials. There is an “untapped opportunity” to help the remaining 89% of children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries. It is necessary to ensure there collaborative research can partner programs between institutions.

As deaths of children under five years of age from infectious diseases and other non-cancer causes continue to fall, governments should devote more resources to the fight against childhood cancer.

“When a cancer success center is set up, rumors spread and children start arriving at the hospital earlier … The community is beginning to learn that cancer can be treated. We hope that when children die less from other causes, it will highlight the need to improve cancer care, diagnosis and treatment in their countries,”said Kathy Pritchard-Jones, professor of pediatric oncology at the University's Child Health Institute. College London (UCL Institute of Child Health).

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