I hope the first week of September finds you well and ready for the upcoming school year- we are rooting for all of you!
A quick note before we learn a bit about childhood cancer within Canada; we at Relay for Life of UBC would love to have you on our team! Check out our instagram (@ubcrelayforlife) for more information about the hiring process, open until Sept 12th at 11:59pm.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, a time to both acknowledge the thousands of children (ages 0-14) who are battling cancer as well as raise awareness and learn more about the realities of a diagnosis and the importance of research. Each day in Canada, 6 children on average are told “you have cancer”. Cancer is the leading disease causing childhood death, as well as the number one non-accidental cause of death within the age group. Unlike adult cancers, the causes of most childhood cancers are unknown and not linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors like the adult counterpart.
Of the varieties of cancer, leukemia is the most commonly occurring at 33%, followed by brain and nervous system cancers (20%), and lymphomas (11%). As a result of funding and dedicated research, the survival rates have improved drastically over the last few decades, from 71% in the 80s, to 82% in the 2000s. This is heavily dependent on the type of cancer, stage of diagnosis, and age group of the child. Though there is a moderately “high” survival rate, it comes at a price. Over 75% of survivors of childhood cancers are left with lifetime permanent side effects of many presentations and severities. Despite advancements in treatment, high risk cancers maintain low survival rates, between approximately 7-31%.
New treatments are constantly undergoing testing and trials, many of which are funded and supported by the CCS and dollars raised through events such as Relay for Life. Newer treatments, such as targeted therapy drugs and immunotherapy, are becoming increasingly more important in treatment plans.
Each year, an estimated 300,000 children (and adolescents) are diagnosed with cancer. Of those, one in five will not survive. Access to early diagnosis, effective treatment, and thorough care are huge determinants in the post-diagnosis world of patients and their families.
Take this month to think about who you know who has been impacted by childhood cancer, and how you are able to support them- keep an eye on our socials for more information about how to get involved and make a difference in the coming months in your own communities and around Canada.