The number one disease killer of children is cancer. In fact, cancer kills more kids than all other diseases combined. For children, the average age at diagnosis is 8 overall (ages 0 to 19), 5 years old for children (aged 0 to 14), and 17 years old for adolescents (aged 15 to 19), while adults’ average age for cancer diagnosis is 65. Adult cancers receive 96% of government-funded research while children’s cancers only get 4%.
Adult cancers are not the same as childhood cancers, but for the most part, due to the lack of development, children have to rely on adult chemotherapies to cure their cancers. Chemotherapy kills the fastest growing cells in an adult’s body: cancer cells, hair cells, saliva cells, eyelashes, eyebrows, etc. Chemotherapy does the same thing for children, but it also causes serious side effects because most cells in a child’s body are fast growing. All their organs and bones are constantly growing. It can cause changes in the DNA and cause secondary cancers. Saving children from cancer using adult therapies today has an 84% five year survival rate. While that may sound good, consider that the child has to battle all the side effects from the toxic chemotherapy and radiation. More than 95% of childhood cancer survivors will have a significant health related issue by the time they are 45 years of age.
Children need to have non-toxic therapies developed just for their particular cancers. We need to invest in childhood cancer research as well. For the last 10 years, childhood cancers have only received 4% of the budgeted research. We must do better. Will you help?