Childhood Cancer should get more than just 3% of the research money

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I thought childhood cancer was something foreign and rare. Something other people might have to deal with but surely not our family with our perfect, healthy children…. How wrong I was.

Our precious daughter Pearl died in 2017 after 11 months of cancer treatment. She was 10 years old.

I had naively thought that children's cancer research must be well funded and that rigorous well-developed treatments must exist to help. I discovered the truth....

  • It’s not rare, cancer is the leading cause of death in the UK for children aged 1-14yrs.
  • 1 in 500 children develops cancer by age 14. Of those, 1 in 5 will not survive and ‘surviving’ childhood cancer simply means living for 5 years after diagnosis.
  • Causes of childhood cancer are not well understood, and the incidence of childhood cancer is actually increasing.
  • Diagnosis can be very slow - in 80% of children diagnosed with cancer, it will have already spread by the time it has been found, and this means the chance of survival is much lower.
  • Childhood cancer is not one disease, there are many different types each with very different symptoms and each needing different treatments. Children's cancers are completely different to adult cancers.
  • Whilst hundreds of drugs have been developed to treat adult cancer, only 4 have ever been designed specifically for children.
  • Most chemotherapy drugs used on children have not been updated in 30 years. Some are as old as 60 years.
  • Because children's bodies are still growing they have to be given BIGGER doses of chemotherapy than adults would require.
  • Some children die because their bodies cannot withstand the brutal treatment needed. The ones that survive their cancer are often left with significant life-long side effects.
  • Despite children often being used to advertise large cancer charities, little of their money is targeted on children. Cancer Research UK only allocates 1.4% of their research money to children's cancer.
  • The new field of individualised immunotherapy to treat children’s cancer is very promising but the lack of research funding means that progress is held back.

The large Cancer Research Charities choose to target adult cancer because there are simply more adults than children. Compared to adult cancers, all children cancers are ‘rare’, but this is simply because there aren’t as many children….!

The average age of a child diagnosed with cancer is 6yrs. The average age of an adult diagnosed is over 60yrs. With life expectancy at around 80yrs in the UK – who has more to lose? 

At the moment Children's Cancer worldwide gets LESS THAN 3% of the available research money - that’s unacceptable. 

We are calling for a fairer division of the research money:

  • If there aren't the research studies out there to fund then the charities should be setting them up and encouraging them. 
  • Children's cancer needs different treatment to adults they can't just be given a ramped up version of the adult treatment, it doesn't work well enough. 

AWARENESS = RESEARCH = SURVIVAL

Please join me in demanding a fairer division of research money, dedicated to Childhood Cancer.  Our children deserve so much more than 3%.

Thank you, Rachel.   (One of far too many bereaved cancer parents)