CHILDHOOD CANCER RESEARCH
Advances in modern medicine continue to progress at a remarkable rate— as a result of scientific research initiatives (i.e. malaria, diphtheria, measles, pertussis/whooping cough, pneumococcus, tetanus, typhoid fever, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and smallpox), a vast number of formerly deadly diseases no longer pose a significant health risk to children living in the United States today. Research and clinical trials are also responsible for increasing the survival rates of many adult cancers that were previously considered terminal. Yet despite the ongoing global effort to prevent, manage, and cure cancer, the specific needs of children and adolescents with cancer are often overlooked.
Clinical research is the key to finding a cure for any disease; however, properly executed clinical trials require a significant amount of funding. Unfortunately, federal funding and pharmaceutical research initiatives are primarily devoted to finding cures for diseases that affect the largest number of patients (i.e. breast cancer, AIDS). The market for rare pediatric cancer treatments is so small that pharmaceutical companies lack the financial incentives to develop new childhood cancer medications, leaving children with limited treatment options and excessively harsh (and often unsafe) drugs and treatments that were originally formulated to treat adult cancers.
Adult cancer treatments given to children (even at lower doses) are not optimal therapeutic options, primarily because there are so many different types/subtypes of pediatric cancers and because the immune system of a child is not strong enough to withstand the intense side effects of adult cancer treatments. Specialized medications for childhood cancer must be developed to treat the many forms of childhood cancer while respecting the limitations of a child’s immune system and mitigating the risk of late effects.
THE TRUTH BEHIND THE NUMBERS
Numbers and statistics may not seem exciting or glamorous but they tell a very important story, illustrating with painful clarity why we need additional funding for childhood cancer research. The links within the statistics below will bring you to some of the Blog postings created during ACCO’s “#Step Up Campaign,” which was dedicated to raising awareness about childhood cancer through an interactive social media campaign. Many of these blogs were written by parents who lost a child to cancer, and as you read their heart-wrenching stories and see the beautiful faces behind the childhood cancer statistics, the numbers will begin to take on a much deeper meaning:
15—Average number of years of life lost to adult cancer
6—Average age of a child diagnosed with cancer
67—Average age of an adult diagnosed with cancer
2—number of FDA-approved drugs for any childhood cancer in the last 20 years
Less than 1%—percentage of research and development budget pharmaceutical companies allocate for childhood cancer treatments
60%— percentage of research and development budget pharmaceutical companies allocate for adult cancer treatments
4%—percentage of National Cancer Institute (NCI) budget dedicated to childhood cancers
50%—percentage of children’s chemotherapy treatments that were developed more than 25 years ago
As evidenced by these telling statistics, childhood cancer research consistently remains underfunded, with many research grants relying solely on philanthropic generosity rather than federal grants or pharmaceutical research and development. The ACCO is committed to funding cutting-edge research initiatives and clinical trials to find targeted, effective pediatric drug treatments for all forms of childhood cancer
Childhood cancer research not only saves lives, but can significantly improve the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors. Please join us to fund crucial research to cure all forms of childhood cancer.