September 2014

Did you know that September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?

In Australia, more than 600 children are diagnosed with cancer each year and tragically, one in six children dies as a result.

Around the country, research projects are underway with the aim of improving diagnosis and treatment for children. Cancer Councils fund a number of research projects directly related to cancers that impact children, such as leukaemia, brain tumours, lymphoma and many others. For example, Cancer Council NSW is funding research that is trying to develop a new treatment for neuroblastoma to stop the cancer from growing and spreading You can find more information on Cancer Council research via our website.

Childhood cancer is relatively rare and for that reason, collaborations with multiple centres around the world are important to get large enough samples for clinical trials and research. It is important to acknowledge the role of children’s cancer charities in Australia and around the world who contribute to research in this field, such as the in Australia, who also promote Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

An important facilitator of research is the repository and maintenance of data. Cancer Council Queensland independently funds and manages the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry, one of the few national registers of childhood cancer in the world. The registry records clinical and treatment information on all children diagnosed with cancer in Australia.

A critical aspect of our work in children’s cancers is to provide information and support to children and their families. As well as our range of cancer publications, we provide confidential phone information and support via Cancer Council 13 11 20*. We also have an online forum and resources, such as those provided by Cancer Council Victoria. And we provide the opportunity for families to share their stories, such as that of Jack Norman. At age 6, Jack is about to start his third round of radiotherapy and is facing his future with tenacity and hope.

To assist GPs and health professionals, Cancer Council has recently produced a ‘red flags’ guide to alert health professionals to the warning signs of cancer in children.

The challenge of childhood cancers is enormous, yet we are making progress, with the five year survival rate for childhood cancers in Australia improving since the 1980s from 68% to 81%.