Summary: The objective of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is to put a spotlight on the types of cancer that largely affect children, survivorship issues, and most importantly, to help raise funds for research and family support. Each September, all are invited to take part in local events and money raising efforts to help support the fight against childhood cancer. Here you can learn facts and stats about childhood cancer, how funding is allocated, and how you can help to raise awareness about this very important type of childhood cancer.
Every day in the United States, over fifty families hear the words, “your child has cancer” and are left wondering which way to turn and what to do next. Each week, over a dozen families bury their children from childhood cancer. Every year in the United States more than sixteen-thousand children and young adults are diagnosed with cancer. Each year, September brings Childhood Cancer Awareness month, which is designed to help raise funds for further research and testing, spread awareness and education about all forms of childhood cancer, and help connect families just beginning their cancer journey with other families who have been there before.
While the five-year survival rate for childhood cancer are over eighty percent, nearly two-thousand children under the age of nineteen will die each year, making cancer the leading killer in children by a disease. These statistics only show the results from the United States and leave other countries to track their own rates. The American Cancer Society stated that in 2016, over three-hundred-thousand children were diagnosed worldwide (ACS). Childhood cancer remains a huge problem for this reason because:
- Children’s cancer cannot be treated exactly like adult cancers, which is where most of the federal research funding goes. Current treatments are toxic, affect a child’s development and can be decades old. To treat childhood cancer in the best way possible, we need to create specialized treatments just for kids.
- The causes of childhood cancers are largely unknown. We need to study what causes childhood cancer to understand what treatments work best.
- Many childhood cancer survivors in the United States suffer from lifelong damage to their organs, mental health and more. We need to understand how treatments affect kids long-term so we can prevent late, life-long effects.
The main types of childhood cancer that seem to be the most prevalent are neural and brain tumors, lymphomas, sarcomas, leukemia and certain other cancers.
Curious about the top ten facts about childhood cancer? Read up on them here from Alex’s Lemonade Stand and other top childhood cancer organizations around the United States:
- Childhood cancer is not one disease, but many. Childhood cancer is made up of over a dozen different types and countless sub-types. Cancer in children can begin virtually anywhere in the body. The causes of most types of childhood cancer are not known and are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors, unlike many adult cancers. Researchers are beginning to understand some of the genetic mutations that might cause certain types of childhood cancer and use that information to search for cures.
- Each day, there are over seven hundred new cases diagnosed worldwide. This is equivalent to an entire elementary school of children. This adds up to over two-hundred-fifty-thousand new cases of cancer each year in children under the age of twenty.
- Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States for people under the age of nineteen. Every day, two-hundred-fifty children around the world die from cancer. Each year, over ninety-thousand children lose their lives to cancer. Last year, brain tumors overtook leukemia as the deadliest cause of death by cancer. Long term survival rates continue to increase, but not fast enough to save the thousands of children who will die at the hands of cancer.
- Childhood cancer treatment is no longer simply chemotherapy and radiation. Cancer treatments are always changing and becoming more targeted. Precise therapies, like T cell immunotherapy, that attack the genetic components and drivers of cancer are offering more hope than ever before.
- A cure is not enough, and surviving childhood cancer does not mean that one is forever healed. Two-thirds of all childhood cancer patients will have long lasting chronic conditions from treatment. Advancements in treatment have increased survival rates. However, the treatment can lead to late term effects including chronic health conditions or struggles with learning and cognitive impairment. Researchers continue to search for safer, effective treatments, like the growing study of immunotherapy that harnesses the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells, leaving healthy cells, healthy.
- New data and medical partnerships will lead to cures. Many organizations have funded thousands of research grants, which work to bring together the innovative and brilliant minds of childhood cancer researchers. This year, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation opened the Childhood Cancer Data Lab. The lab team will collect and analyze the vast wealth of data already available while integrating discoveries from funded researchers and many others. By pulling from previous research and analyzing findings from contemporary projects, the CCDL is accelerating the path to better treatments and cures for kids fighting cancer everywhere.
- Most families have to travel for a minimum of three hours to receive treatment for their child. While childhood cancer treatments are available across the United States, not every town has access to those treatments. Families often have to travel —whether it is for frontline treatment or a clinical trial following a relapse. Treatment brings a financial and psychological burden on families who have to juggle cancer treatment with distance, lost days at work, separation from family, lack of local support systems and the financial cost of flights, hotels and gas.
- Children are immensely strong. Ever wonder why the Childhood Cancer Awareness ribbon is gold? In 1997, a group of parents picked gold as the official color because it symbolizes how precious children are and their resiliency.
- There is hope. While childhood cancer is consistently underfunded at the government level, your support of research projects for all types of childhood cancer is bringing us closer to cures than ever before. There are children alive today that would not be because of our supporters’ dedication to finding cures for all children, one cup at a time.
- Federal funding and donations lead to cures. Our founder, Alex Scott, started Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation with one front yard lemonade stand. Today, ALSF has raised over $150 million and has funded over eight-hundred research grants at one-hundred-thirty-five institutions. It all started with one cup of lemonade. In September, you can make your miles count during Alex’s Million Mile, the world’s largest childhood cancer awareness campaign and host your own local event. If you are interested in hosting your own lemonade stand or local event, check out the information on the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation website.
- Childhood cancer leads to life-long medical issues. Two-thirds of childhood cancer patients will have long lasting chronic conditions from treatment.
If you are concerned that your child may be exhibiting symptoms or signs of a possible childhood cancer, you should check in with your doctor or medical team immediately. Some of the signs to watch out for are:
- An unusual lump or swelling
- Unexplained paleness and loss of energy
- Easy bruising
- An ongoing pain in one area of the body
- Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away
- Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
- Sudden eye or vision changes
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
Most of these symptoms are much more likely to be caused by something other than cancer, such as an injury or infection. Still, if your child has any of these symptoms, see your doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if need be. Other symptoms are also possible, depending on the type of cancer.
By sharing statistics and the facts about childhood cancer as well as the stories behind those numbers, researchers can move closer to innovative and specialized cures. It also helps family members better understand what their loved one is going through and what options are available to them.
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