Do you know September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? If you are like most people, you probably do not! Although cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in children in the United States, killing more children each year than AIDS, asthma, diabetes and cystic fibrosis combined, pediatric cancer does not command the cause marketing and media hype of diseases impacting adults.
Treatment of childhood cancer is often held out as one of modern medicine’s success stories. Just forty years ago, few children with cancer lived, but now nearly 80% are cured of their disease. Certainly, this is progress but it is not good enough. The loss of a single child to cancer is one too many. Additionally, for the 250,000 survivors of childhood cancer living in the United States, the “cure” can come at a high price. The treatment – surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants – may cure the cancer, but sometimes it also adversely affects the growing bodies and developing minds of the children who receive it.
• Children who receive radiation to the chest as part of their cancer treatment are at risk for developing respiratory problems, such as decreased lung volume and lung tissue that becomes thickened and coarse. These young girls have a risk of developing breast cancer that is nearly 20 times that of their peers.
• A class of drugs used for childhood cancers, known as anthracyclines, have been linked with decreased heart function in childhood cancer survivors.
• Radiation therapy can have serious effects on the proper growth of bone and muscle in young people.
• Childhood cancer survivors have an increased risk of developing a second cancer during their lifetime.
• Childhood cancer survivors and their parents often experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.
While these facts and statistics are sobering, this truly is a time of great optimism for the future of childhood cancer research and treatment. As we increase our investment in research, knowledge about the genetic and biological mechanisms by which cancers arise and behave is rapidly developing. Tools that give doctors the ability to target childhood cancers in novel and innovative ways are steadily improving. For children battling today and for those yet to be diagnosed, the progress toward finding a cure is promising. At CURE, we will not rest until every child with cancer is guaranteed a cure. Please help us – during the month of September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and all year long.
CURE is in the news this month! Click below to read the articles: