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10 Facts About Childhood Cancer

September 15, 2020
4 min read
10 things you should know about childhood cancers

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to test your knowledge — and to spread the word about why you support lifesaving research through St. Baldrick’s. And you may learn something new!

1) Every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer.

That’s 300,000 kids around the world every year. And 80% of children diagnosed with cancer live in developing countries. Childhood cancer is a global problem, and what is learned in one country can benefit kids around the world. Learn about St. Baldrick’s international footprint.

2)  Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children in the U.S.

Cancer kills more kids ages 1-19 in the U.S. than many other diseases combined. Before they’re 20, 1 in 264 children and adolescents will have cancer.

3) All childhood cancers are not the same.

No one says they have “adult cancer,” right? It’s the same for kids. They don’t have “childhood cancer.”  They have leukemia or neuroblastoma or one of more than a dozen types – or hundreds of subtypes – of childhood cancer. Research has made great progress in some types, and little in others. Learn more about childhood cancers

4) Five years is not enough.

When St. Baldrick’s began, the 5-year survival rate for childhood cancers in the U.S. was 79%. Today, after 20 more years of research, it’s 84%.  But this simply reflects those alive 5 years from diagnosis – even if they’re still fighting cancer. Living another 5 years is not enough. We need to give kids a lifetime.

5)  One in five children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. will not survive.

Given the number of kids who will die of cancer or the effects of their treatment after 5 years, but long before their time – often still in childhood – this is a better reflection of the reality of childhood cancer.

6) The average age of a child diagnosed with cancer is 6.

But childhood cancers span all ages from newborn infants to teens and young adults. That’s why the St. Baldrick’s Foundation often refers to “kids” with cancer, a more inclusive term in the U.S. (At 21, you may be a college kid, but you’re certainly not a child!)

7) Childhood cancers are different from adult cancers.

Kids don’t get cancer because of smoking or sun exposure or other risk factors for adults, but more due to “spelling mistakes” in the body’s genetic code. Learn more about why kids get cancer and other differences between childhood and adult cancers.

8) We can’t treat kids like adults.

Even though they aren’t children, most teens and many young adults with cancer should be treated by pediatric oncologists. Depending on the cancer, more than 30% more may survive when treated on a pediatric treatment protocol.

9) Much of what we know about treating adults has been learned from childhood cancer research.

Some aspects of cancer treatment today, such as combination chemotherapy, can be traced to pediatric cancer research.

10) Survivorship is the first step of a lifelong journey.

Today in the U.S. there are about 420,000 survivors of childhood cancer. That’s about 1 in every 750 young adults. Because of the treatments they had as kids, by age 50, more than 99% of childhood cancer survivors have a chronic health problem and 96% have severe or life-threatening conditions. St. Baldrick’s funds survivorship research to improve outcomes for those in treatment today.

By raising awareness and supporting research, you are honoring the precious souls we’ve lost to cancer, the thousands who are in treatment right now, and survivors looking to a healthier future. And you’re giving hope to those who will be diagnosed tomorrow. See more about your impact on kids.

Together, let’s #GiveKidsALifetime!