More than 15,000 parents around the world hear the news that their child has been diagnosed with some form of cancer each year. While any battle with cancer is one that's sure to be hard-fought, it's especially challenging for children living with the condition. A look at the prevalence of cancer affecting children around the world paints a clearer picture of the how the condition can have an impact on so many lives, regardless of geographic location.
Increased Worldwide Occurrences
Even with improved treatments and longer survival periods following initial diagnosis, the instances of childhood cancers around the world have increased in some parts of the world, substantially in some areas. A report cited by the National Cancer Institute suggests that the occurrence of childhood cancer has increased nearly 18 percent from the mid-1970s through 2012. Incidence rates of cancers specific to children under the age of 18 have increased nearly 30 percent in Great Britain alone, with similar stats also seen in other parts of Europe. More than 45,000 new cases of pediatric cancer are reported in China each year.
Girls and Boys Affected Equally
With the exception of leukemia, which occurs more frequently in boys than girls on a global level in some areas, cancer appears to affect both boys and girls equally around the world. According to the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society, the most common childhood cancers worldwide include:
• Cancers affecting the brain and central nervous system
• Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
• Soft-tissue sarcoma
• Renal cancer
• Thyroid cancer
• Bone sarcoma
Younger Children Affected
On average, most childhood cancers appear before the age of five. This appears to be true in all parts of the world, although some cancers are detected at later stages in areas without access to sufficient preventative care options. Sixty percent of children who survive an early form of cancer go on to develop secondary cancers or suffer related side effects such as infertility and muscular issues.
Cancer affects children of all ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic groups worldwide. While cancer rates tend to be higher in more developed nations, some forms of cancer are more prevalent in less-developed countries among all age groups. Despite there being no clear reason for the increase in childhood cancer worldwide, researchers continue to emphasize the need for continued education, an ongoing search for new treatments, and access to quality care.