September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
August 31, 2018
September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time when cancer organisations around the world put the spotlight on children's cancer and the need to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.
Sadly around 750 children aged 0-14 are diagnosed with cancer in Australia every year and 100 will die from the disease.
Cancer Council Queensland has funded and managed the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry since 2004 - one of only a few national clinical registers of childhood cancer in the world. The registry shows, that while cancer remains the most common cause of disease-related death for children aged 1-14 in Australia, overall childhood cancer survival rates around the country are increasing. But there is still a need for further research and support services for families affected.
Between 2013 and 2017, Cancer Council collectively invested $10 million in cancer research specifically identified as “children's cancer”. Around the country, research projects are underway with the aim of improving diagnosis and treatment for children.
For instance, sixty years ago, a diagnosis of leukaemia was nearly always a death sentence for a child. Today, the vast majority will survive this condition, thanks in part to the work of researchers such as Professor Murray Norris at Children's Cancer Institute Australia. With seed funding from Cancer Council, Professor Norris has developed the ‘Minimal Residual Disease’ test that can detect the smallest number of leukaemia cells. Further funding from Cancer Council meant the MRD test could be refined and optimised for use in a national clinical trial for patients diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
At the start of the clinical trial, the survival rate for children with high risk leukaemia was 35%. At the end of the trial, the survival rate had doubled to 70%. As technology advances, and with the support of Cancer Council, Professor Norris believes we can achieve a cancer free future for all Australians.
You can find more information on Cancer Council research via our website.
A critical part of Cancer Council's work is providing information and support to families impacted by cancer. Our 13 11 20 phone number is accessible to all Australians impacted by cancer and acts as a gateway to our other cancer services and information.
We also publish a range of resources to help support families experiencing cancer. Our Talking to Kids About Cancer publication is designed to help when discussing all stages of a cancer diagnosis with children from infants to teenagers. In addition, Cancer in the School Community assists school staff to support students, families and colleagues affected by cancer.
Cancer Council Victoria also publish Life During and After Childhood Cancer, which explores a range of aspects related to cancer ranging from diet and fatigue to school issues.