What is known?
Children with cancer in lower-income countries have significantly poorer survival rates compared to those in high-income countries.
These differences can be attributed to inequitable access to healthcare services, including cancer prevention programs, treatment, and health care. Additionally, many children with cancer in poorer countries remain undiagnosed and do not receive treatment, even if it is available.
A Lancet Oncology Commission is a research collaboration between editors from the Lancet journal and leading academics that aims to improve cancer care and outcomes by providing recommendations to address inequalities in health systems across the world.
What is new?
This Lancet Oncology Commission was formed to make recommendations to improve equitable and sustainable care for children with cancer around the world. This study investigated the worldwide distribution of childhood cancer and explored differences in access to cancer-related health services across countries.
It found that previous studies likely underestimated the incidence of childhood cancer in poorer countries due to under-diagnosis, under-reporting and lack of accurate data.
New modelling estimated that there will be approximately 13.7 million new cases of childhood cancer worldwide over the next 30 years, with most cases and deaths occurring in low-income countries.
The Commission identified cost-effective solutions to address these inequalities in access to diagnosis and treatment for children with cancer. The long-term economic benefit of improving access to cancer-related health services for children was estimated to vastly outweigh investment in these health programs.
What does this mean?
Global investment in interventions aimed at improving access to health services for children with cancer, particularly in low-income countries, will not only save lives, but have significant economic benefits.
Contact: Joanne Aitken
Reference: Atun R, Bhakta N, Denburg A, Frazier AL, Friedrich P, Gupta S, Lam CG, Ward ZJ, Yeh JM, Allemani C, Coleman MP, Di Carlo V, Loucaides E, Fitchett E, Girardi F, Horton SE, Bray F, Steliarova-Foucher E, Sullivan R, Aitken JF, Banavali S, Binagwaho A, Alcasabas P, Antillon F, Arora RS, Barr RD, Bouffet E, Challinor J, Fuentes-Alabi S, Gross T, Hagander L, Hoffman RI, Herrera C, Kutluk T, Marcus KJ, Moreira C, Pritchard-Jones K, Ramirez O, Renner L, Robison LL, Shalkow J, Sung L, Yeoh A, Rodriguez-Galindo C. Sustainable care for children with cancer: a Lancet Oncology Commission. Lancet Oncology. 2020; 21(4):e185-e224.