Recent Scientific Donations to Understanding Childhood Cancer
Some of the wonderful people to donate to charities for children with cancer like ours are surprised to learn that cancer is the leading disease-related cause of death for children ages 1 through 19. Many more adults are stricken with cancer in any given year, but it isn’t the overall numbers that inspire the work of kids’ cancer charities like Deliver the Dream.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016 (latest year for which figures were available) there will be:
- 10,380 new childhood cancer cases and
- 1250 cancer deaths among children (ages 0-14) in the US.
- Among adolescents (ages 15-19), there will be an estimated 4280 new childhood cancer diagnoses and
- 600 cancer deaths
Challenges to Childhood Cancer Research
Just as there are incredible challenges for the children struggling with cancer and for their families, the researchers studying childhood cancer also have challenges.
The report Translating Discovery into Cures for Children with Cancer, described as a Childhood Cancer Research Landscape Report, explains that childhood cancer is different from the forms of cancer that affect adults. Why is dealing with children’s cancer so challenging? The report points to the following:
- Childhood cancers are often biologically different than the cancers that share the same name in adults, meaning that childhood-specific research is required, and children and adults ultimately may need different treatments.
- Side effects from treatment cause significant health impacts on children because the treatments occur during a vulnerable period of development and longer survival times mean more time for late effects to impact a childhood cancer survivor’s health.
- Society has afforded special protective status for children involved in research, which changes the type of research generally considered to be ethical for children and also changes the process for approving such research.
- The rarity of childhood cancers can make recruiting children to participate in clinical research challenging, either due to a small number of diagnosed patients or due to competition between different research projects for the same children.
- The rarity of childhood cancers also means the financial incentives to develop and market drugs specifically for children with cancer are often not enough to entice industry to invest in this type of research.
There are many wonderful children’s cancer charities focused on the research side of the equation. Until they find they find a cure, there will continue to be a need for charities that support children living with cancer – like Deliver the Dream.