Cancer Council Australia and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2017
8 September 2017
Cancer Council Australia is recognising Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, held in September every year.
The international awareness month focuses on children's cancers and highlights the need for further research and improved treatments and outcomes for young patients.
Childhood cancers remain the most common cause of disease-related deaths for children aged 0-14 in Australia. Sadly, it is estimated that 650 Australian children aged 0-14 years were diagnosed with cancer in 2016.
The cancer types that are most common in children are different to those which are most common in adults. Children's cancers are more often found in faster growing tissues such as blood, bone and bone marrow, lymph, muscles, kidney and liver, and as a result, the most common childhood cancers include leukaemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas, neuroblastoma, soft tissue sarcoma and kidney cancer.
While childhood cancer is devastating for the child, family and community affected by a diagnosis, there is some positive news: data from the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry, funded and managed by Cancer Council Queensland, shows that the overall childhood cancer survival rate around the country is increasing.
In Queensland, for example, 86% of children (aged 0-19) will now survive at least five years from diagnosis, up from around 70% in 1986. One improvement of note is the five-year survival rate for lymphoid leukaemia: in the late 1980s, the survival rate was around 59%, but today that has risen to around 93%.
Research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare echoes the positive trend, showing that more children with cancer are surviving than years gone by.
Those who do survive will often face difficulties with physical and mental health issues in the future, further highlighting the need for more research and support for the families affected.
Cancer Council helps families affected by childhood cancers in a variety of ways while continuing to call for more research funding into the area.
Families affected by childhood cancer are welcome to call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 for information and support, and to get further details about how the organisation can help their family.
Other resources include the Talking to Kids About Cancer publication, which is available as an ebook or a downloadable PDF. The guide gives practical, age-appropriate advice for navigating these difficult discussions with children.
Teachers and those who work in schools can also download the Cancer in the School Community publication, which gives tips for assisting conversations about cancer with children from age four through to the teen years.
Members of the public can call 13 11 20 to order a hard copy of both these publications.