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5 Surprising Facts about Childhood Cancer

September 26, 2014
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and what you may not know about childhood cancer may surprise you. More than 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year and approximately one-quarter of these children will not survive. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month highlights the types of cancer that affect children, survivorship issues, and help raise funds for research and family support.

First, five things you may not know about childhood cancer:

  1. Common adult cancers – lung, breast, colon, and others – rarely occur in children.

  2. Childhood cancers tend to be more aggressive than adult cancers.

  3. Childhood cancer remains the number one disease killer of America's children.

  4. The average age that a child is diagnosed with cancer is 10.

  5. Today, the overall 5-year survival rate for childhood cancer is close to 80%.


Although the survival rate for childhood cancer has increased drastically since 1970, we can do better. Two-thirds of those who survive face at least one chronic health condition, and one-quarter of survivors face a late-effect from treatment that is classified as severe or life-threatening. Late-effects of treatment can include heart damage, second cancers, lung damage, infertility, cognitive impairment, growth deficits, hearing loss, and more. Unfortunately, not all childhood cancers have successful survival rates, many types of childhood cancer continue to have a poor 5-year prognosis.

Children deserve better. Biotech holds great promise for delivering treatments and cures for childhood cancer. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has produced a Medicines in Development for children, highlighting cancer – check it out here.

We must increase awareness of the incidence and devastation of this disease on America's children. We must increase research funding for childhood cancer. Similar to breast cancer, childhood cancer has an international symbol – the gold ribbon. Show your support by promoting the gold ribbon, and check out the web resources below for more information. A good starting point is the American Childhood Cancer Organization, which hosts a web site full of great information (most of the content above came from this site, in fact).