September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time when cancer organisations around the world put the spotlight on children's cancer and the need to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.
Sadly around 710 children aged 0-14 are diagnosed with cancer in Australia every year and 100 will die from the disease.
Cancer Council Queensland funds and manages the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry – one of only a few national clinical registers of childhood cancer in the world. The registry records clinical and treatment information on all children diagnosed with cancer in Australia.
Figures from the registry show that childhood cancer death rates in Australia have decreased by nearly 40 per cent over the past 15 years. However, cancer remains the most common cause of disease-related death for children aged 1-14 in Australia, and data from Associate Professor Claire Wakefield at the University of NSW has shown that 81 percent of childhood cancer survivors develop at least one life-changing mental or physical health issue after cancer treatment they received as a child. This highlights the need for further research and support services for families affected.
A critical part of Cancer Council’s work is providing information and support to families impacted by cancer. Our 13 11 20 phone number is accessible to all Australians impacted by cancer and acts as a gateway to our other cancer services and information.
We also publish a range of resources to help support families experiencing cancer. As part of this range, we have Cancer in the School Community to assist conversations about the stages of cancer for school aged children.
Additionally, our Talking to Kids About Cancer publication is designed to help when discussing all stages of a cancer diagnosis with children from infants to teenagers. Cancer Council Victoria also publish Life During and After Childhood Cancer, which explores a range of aspects related to cancer ranging from diet and fatigue to school issues.
Around the country, research projects are underway with the aim of improving diagnosis and treatment for children. Cancer Council is the largest independent funder of cancer research in Australia and is currently funding a number of research projects directly related to cancers that impact children.
For instance, Cancer Council NSW is currently funding Associate Professor Claire Wakefield at the University of NSW. Her research is focusing on implementing interventions that aim to improve long-term outcomes for childhood cancer survivors and their families.
Professor Murray Norris AM at the Children's Cancer Institute is also being funded by Cancer Council NSW and aims to increase survival rates of children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Professor Norris is aiming to identify new molecular targets for treatment and ultimately develop prevention strategies.
You can find more information on Cancer Council research via our website..