Monday, September 15, 2008

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Photo Credit

You would think that we wouldn’t need a month to make people aware of childhood cancer, but we do.

Most people don’t know a child who has cancer. I meet people all the time who don’t even realize children can get cancer.

Some facts about childhood cancer worth knowing: Cancer is the most common cause of illness-related death in children. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in children, after accidents. 12,500 children are diagnosed with cancer every year.

What is being done to combat the illness that kills more kids than any other? Well, the National Cancer Institute is supporting research to the tune of approximately $170 million per year.

That my sound like a lot, but it isn’t. An article in Forbes, written by the mother of a girl with osteosarcoma, discussed some of these issues. Funding for pediatric oncology clinical trials, which are so expensive that they can only be done with the support of NCI or a pharmaceutical company that hopes to uncover the next blockbuster drug, is at $26.4 million per year and has been dropping steadily since 2003. This decrease in funding has had a real impact. A number of trials being conducted by the Children’s Oncology Group have had to close, and others have been reduced in size or delayed.

These clinical trials are responsible for one more astounding fact about childhood cancer: approximately 3 of every 4 children diagnosed with cancer will be cured. For some types of childhood cancer, the improvements have been mind boggling – acute lymphoblastic leukemia (the most common type of cancer in children) has changed from a disease that killed almost everyone who contracted it within 3 months, to a disease that is cured 75% of the time.

How did this happen? Cooperation. Rather than competing with each other, pediatric cancer centers have banded together into a single group, the Children’s Oncology Group, which conducts nationwide clinical trials. According to this article in Newsweek, up to 80% of children with certain types of cancer are enrolled on clinical trials. The comparable figure for adults? About 1%.

And while $26.4 million to finance clinical trials may sound like a lot of money, NCI funding for AIDS research in 2006 was $254 million, and funding for breast cancer research was $584 million.

What can you do to help? One concrete step anyone in the US can take is to contact their representative in Congress and urge him or her to appropriate the funds for HR 1553, the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. Sponsored by Rep. Deborah Pryce, whose daughter died of neuroblastoma in 1999. Although signed into law by President Bush in July, the money, $30 million, still needs to be appropriated.

Another way to help is to join the MileStones Virtual Walk for 12,500, sponsored by CureSearch, the organization that supports the Children’s Oncology Group. Or you can support the Committee to Establish a Childhood Cancer Awarenes Stamp.

With your help, we can continue to make progress diagnosing and treating childhood cancer, and cure even more children.

Related Posts:

Standing Up to Cancer
Sarcoma Video
Today is World Cancer Day


Shekhar Sahu said...

Hi Doctor!
Good to see your blog... pretty good blog.

We've started a portal called, where we provide live interactions between Doctors & Patients.

Also, we have our blog at

Have a look, I hope you'll like the concept. Would be great if you feature/write about Health 2.0 & Online Healthcare on your blog.


Susan said...

Thanks Doc David,

I really appreciate this post!! I wrote about it yesterday!

Hope you have a great day today~

AJay Piniewski said...

Hey David, thanks for recognizing NCCCAD! Now there's a catchy acronym....anyway... how about adding People Against Childhood Cancer, PAC2 , and the Petition to your list? Thanks......

Anonymous said...

Good to see your blog... pretty good blog.

Lea White said...

You seem to have a great blog going here!

We've been walking the child cancer journey now for more than a year as my little girl was diagnosed with A.L.L. last year in June around 2 weeks before turning 4. To date she spent around 106 days in hospital with various infections and as a result they decided she had mild hypogammaglobulinaemia and is now getting monthly IVIG transfusions and 400mg Oral Acyclovir 4 times a day to try and prevent her getting shingles again. But we can't really complain, because things are going pretty well!

Keep blogging!

Lea White

AJay Piniewski said...

had some success with the Boston Globe on publicizing September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Go to The Big Picture - Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to see the photojournalism effort. They have PAC2 kids, a link to PAC2 and the Petition both.

Please EACH ONE OF YOU PLEASE PLEASE take the time to comment on the story, you don't even have to register. That is how the media will come to realize the sheer number of us out here. And that we are paying attention to what they write or dont write. And then they may continue to support our efforts to raise awareness. It takes a minute to comment. Please do it.

webhill said...

Wow. People who don't know kids can get cancer? Just... wow.

My oldest kid is 8; my youngest is 3. I really only started thinking about children when I had my first. So, in the last 8 years... I heard of Alex Scott, who lived not far from my office; my middle child has a good friend who has been struggling to deal with leukemia for a few years; some neighbors of ours lost their 4 year old to a malignant brain tumor; two families I know from our synagogue/nursery school have had kids with cancer - one Ewing's sarcoma, one Wilm's tumor if I recall correctly. That's just off the top of my head. And it's not like I go LOOKING for these stories. They are people I see every day. And I'm just Jane Average Citizen, not cancer-sniffing-mom or anything. Not know kids can get cancer? Do those people live under a rock, or is southeastern PA a hotbed of pediatric neoplasia??

Jen said...

In Canada a good place to go to make a contribution is The Terry Fox Foundation ( There are many different ways to contribute, but they've done more than almost anyone else to raise money for all types of cancer research (including pediatric). Relay for Life ( is also a huge fundraiser as well as being an awful lot of fun.

I didn't have a clue about how low funding was for childhood cancer until my daughter got it- now The Terry Fox Run and Relay for Life are two of her favourite parts of the year.

Tracey said...

Keep up the good work Doctor David! It's people like you who help raise the awareness. I have a great friend who's child has leukemia and is doing pretty well. Getting ready for a BMT.

Thanks for all you do for these kids.

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pediatric emr said...

Nice post! I've been wondering what month is the cancer awareness month. Anyway, now I know that "September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month" Thanks for sharing.


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