September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Around 80% of all child cancer cases globally occur in low and middle income countries yet fewer than a third of children are diagnosed in these countries and of those that are treated less than 20% survive.
Child cancer is highly curable with survival rates of around 80% in developed countries yet in low and middle income countries tens of thousands of children die needlessly every year from the disease – most dying without any effective pain relief. Poor diagnosis coupled with too few specially trained doctors and nurses and the mistaken belief that child cancer is too difficult to cure combine to create very low survival rates.
In fact, at least 50% of child cancers can be cured even in resource-poor environments with relatively simple and inexpensive drugs and procedures which have been known to doctors for decades.