Over the weekend, the world marked International Childhood Cancer Day – a collaborative initiative to raise awareness about the impact of childhood cancer and to support children, families and friends affected.
Nationally, around 640 children aged 0-14 years are diagnosed with cancer each year. In Queensland, about 144 children are diagnosed annually – around 77 boys and 67 girls.
Many of us know that the impact of childhood cancer on a community goes far beyond the numbers. It’s a tragic moment when a family is given the news their child has cancer, and the burden goes beyond the physical – it can affect finances, emotional stability, mental health and many social aspects of life.
Cancer Council is committed to reducing the effects of a childhood cancer diagnosis on family, friends and the local community. It’s why we independently fund and manage the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry – one of the few national registers of childhood cancer in the world.
Our information and support phone line, 13 11 20, is available for family and friends with questions relating to childhood cancer – from treatment to understanding how to explain the situation to children, to coping mechanisms. We welcome all Queenslanders to call us for confidential support, advice or simply a listening ear from our qualified health professionals.
Globally, the focus for International Childhood Cancer Day centered on honouring and supporting kids with cancer, ensuring affordable medicine and better treatments for those affected worldwide.
The Union for International Cancer Control revealed new estimates that just a $50 per child investment into paediatric cancer services could dramatically improve worldwide survival rates – an investment worth our funding.
In Australia the five-year survival rate for all childhood cancer cases combined increased from 76 per cent during 1992-2001 to 82 per cent during 2002-2011. Today, relative survival for childhood cancer is 92 per cent by the end of the first year after diagnosis – these figures are a testament to the high quality of Australian research, clinical trials and treatment.
Concerns still remain, with a survival gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, and relatively poorer survival for children who live in more remote regions. Cancer Council is working hard to address these gaps – to improve our understanding of the causes – and to provide the necessary resources and support to give all children diagnosed with cancer in Australia the best possible prospects for beating the disease.
You can join the International Childhood Cancer Day conversation by making a donation to CCQ, or follow us on social media to raise awareness, show support and express empathy for those affected. Use the hashtags #actnow4kidswithcancer and #actnowiccd.
And if you know someone affected by childhood cancer, urge them to get in touch for support and advice – it could ease their personal burden more than you realise.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland and all childhood cancers is available via 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.
Professor Jeff Dunn AO
Cancer Council Queensland