Childhood Cancer Awareness / by Jennifer Kelly
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 13:00

Cancer in Children and Young people

Definitely a topic we would prefer not to think about, but so very important. 

Not so rare

Childhood cancer is not common, but it occurs far more frequently than we would like to think, and it still is the biggest medical cause of death in children in the UK, something that surprises a lot of people.

Childhood cancer affects 1 in 500 children by the age 14 or 1 in every 285 children before the age of 20, so not as rare as we would wish. It affects children of all ages, boys and girls and from all different backgrounds.

To put it into context, the chances of winning the lottery (if you buy a ticket!) are approximately 1 in 45 million, but the chance of a child getting cancer by the age of 14 is 1 in 500. Pretty sobering reading I know, but we are fighting to do something about it which is the start.

Every day, 11 children and young people are diagnosed in the UK with cancer, and devastatingly, 3 of them will not survive. 

This works out at 4,000 children and young people a year in the UK are diagnosed and 540 children a year die. This is more than 2 average primary schools worth of children that do not survive every year.

On a positive note, survival rates are improving, with more children surviving through treatment.  There is still such a long way to go however, but at least awareness is growing and changes are being made.

Surely we are already funding enough research in the UK?

Sadly this is not the case. Childhood cancer research receives very little funding compared to adults. In 2014, about £9.1 million was spent on childhood cancer in the UK, compared to over £550 million on adults.

For every £1 donated to the major cancer charity in the UK, just 0.9 pence goes on research into childhood cancer. It does not seem possible, but it is.

(Image taken from Glow Gold September for childhood cancer awareness).

Children are mini adults - can't we just use smaller doses of the same treatments for them?

Children get very different cancers compared to adults. They respond differently to treatments and as such need to be covered by their own research.

Given that there are over 200 types of childhood cancers, this is a very tall order and one of the reasons why there is such a problem.

Some rarer tumour types, like Grace's have had very little research done at all. There is already some amazing work being done but there is such a long way to go, and we are proud to be a part of it.

What can we do to help?

Share our blog page and look out for our next blog installment next week - the Signs and symptoms of childhood cancer.

Sign up to our quarterly newsletter and join our fundraising fight, the more people that can help, the better!

Have a look at our website for more information and resources on childhood cancer.