A first of its kind joint report from the American Cancer Society and Alliance for Childhood Cancer compiles the latest information related to pediatric cancer, including statistics and trends, a current list of drugs used to treat pediatric cancers, ongoing pediatric cancer clinical trials, and research funding levels.
The report, “Translating Discovery into Cures for Children with Cancer: Childhood Cancer Research Landscape Report” marks the first time that statistics and information about childhood cancers have been brought together with a critical analysis of challenges and opportunities related to pediatric cancer prevention and treatment.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2016, approximately 14,660 children (age 0-19) will be diagnosed with some form of pediatric cancer and 1,850 will die. As of 2013, each death from pediatric cancer takes an average of 69 years of life.
While much progress has been made in childhood cancer, the report highlights that progress has not been consistent for all cancer types. The 5-year survival rate for all cancers combined rose from 64 percent among children diagnosed from 1975-1979 to 84 percent for children diagnosed from 2005-2011. For neuroblastoma, 5-year survival is currently 78 percent. But for high-risk neuroblastoma, 5-year survival is only 40-50 percent, and the 5-year survival rate for some cancers like diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is still essentially zero.
The report also details troubling statistics about the long-term health of pediatric cancer survivors, indicating high rates of late side effects, susceptibility to chronic conditions, and early death. 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.
“Recognizing that progress is still needed in childhood cancer, this report aims to describe the process by which childhood cancer drugs are developed,” says Michael Link, MD, co-chair of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer. “Describing the pediatric cancer research landscape and identifying barriers to progress allows us as a community to work collectively on ways to overcome these challenges.”
To view a full copy of the report, visit cancer.org/childrensreport.