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September: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

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The most common cancers in children are (childhood) leukemia (32%), brain tumors (18%), and lymphomas (11%). In 2005, 4.1 of every 100,000 young people under 20 years of age in the U.S. were diagnosed with leukemia, and 0.8 per 100,000 died from it. The number of new cases was highest among the 1–4 age group, but the number of deaths was highest among the 10–14 age group. In 2005, 2.9 of every 100,000 people 0–19 years of age were found to have cancer of the brain or central nervous system, and 0.7 per 100,000 died from it. These cancers were found most often in children between 1 and 4 years of age, but the most deaths occurred among those aged 5–9. The main subtypes of brain and central nervous system tumors in children are: astrocytoma, brain stem glioma, craniopharyngioma, desmoplastic infantile ganglioglioma, ependymoma, high-grade glioma, medulloblastoma and atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor.

Childhood cancer (also known as pediatric cancer) is cancer in a child. In the United States, an arbitrarily adopted standard of the ages used are 0–14 years inclusive, that is, up to 14 years 11.9 months of age. However, the definition of childhood cancer sometimes includes young adults between 15–19 years old. Pediatric oncology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in children.

Worldwide, it is estimated that childhood cancer has an incidence of more than 175,000 per year, and a mortality rate of approximately 96,000 per year. In developed countries, childhood cancer has a mortality of approximately 20% of cases. In low resource settings, on the other hand, mortality is approximately 80%, or even 90% in the world’s poorest countries. In many developed countries the incidence is slowly increasing, as rates of childhood cancer increased by 0.6% per year between 1975 and 2002 in the United States, and by 1.1% per year between 1978 and 1997 in Europe.

Internationally, the greatest variation in childhood cancer incidence occurs when comparing high-income countries to low-income ones. This may result from differences in being able to diagnose cancer, differences in risk among different ethnic or racial population subgroups, as well as differences in risk factors. An example of differing risk factors is in cases of pediatric Burkitt lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that sickens 6 to 7 children out of every 100,000 annually in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where it is associated with a history of infection by both Epstein-Barr virus and malaria. In industrialized countries, Burkitt lymphoma is not associated with these infectious conditions.

In the United States, cancer is the second most common cause of death among children between the ages of 1 and 14 years, exceeded only by accidents. More than 16 out of every 100,000 children and teens in the U.S. were diagnosed with cancer, and nearly 3 of every 100,000 died from the disease. In the United States in 2012, it was estimated that there was an incidence of 12,000 new cases, and 1,300 deaths, from cancer among children 0 to 14 years of age.

Families, caregivers, charities and research groups across the United States observe September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In the U.S., 15,780 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year; approximately 1/4 of them will not survive the disease. A diagnosis turns the lives of the entire family upside down. The objective of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is to put a spotlight on the types of cancer that largely affect children, survivorship issues, and – importantly – to help raise funds for research and family support.

NATIONAL CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, 2012

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
Every year, thousands of children across America are diagnosed with cancer    an often life threatening illness that remains the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 15.  The causes of pediatric cancer are still largely unknown, and though new discoveries are resulting in new treatments, this heartbreaking disease continues to scar families and communities in ways that may never fully heal.  This month, we remember the young lives taken too soon, stand with the families facing childhood cancer today, and rededicate ourselves to combating this terrible illness.
 
While much remains to be done, our Nation has come far in the fight to understand, treat, and control childhood cancer.  Thanks to ongoing advances in research and treatment, the 5 year survival rate for all childhood cancers has climbed from less than 50 percent to 80 percent over the past several decades.  Researchers around the world continue to pioneer new therapies and explore the root causes of the disease, driving progress that could reveal cures or improved outcomes for patients.  But despite the gains we have made, help still does not come soon enough for many of our sons and daughters, and too many families suffer pain and devastating loss.
 
My Administration will continue to support families battling pediatric cancer and work to ease the burdens they face.  Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer deny health coverage to children because of pre existing conditions, including cancer, nor can they drop coverage because a child is diagnosed with cancer.  The law also bans insurers from placing a lifetime dollar limit on the amount of coverage they provide, giving families peace of mind that their coverage will be there when they need it most.  And as we work to ensure all Americans have access to affordable health care, my Administration will continue to invest in the cutting edge cancer research that paves the way for tomorrow’s breakthroughs.
 
This month, we pay tribute to the families, friends, professionals, and communities who lend their strength to children fighting pediatric cancer.  May their courage and commitment continue to move us toward new cures, healthier outcomes, and a brighter future for America’s youth.
 
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2012 as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  I encourage all Americans to join me in reaffirming our commitment to fighting childhood cancer.
 
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty first day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
 
– BARACK OBAMA
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