Around the world, pediatric cancer survival rates are failing to keep pace with real-life treatment and diagnostic opportunities.
Five-year survival rates for children with cancer went from 30 percent in the 1960s to 80 percent in the 2000s, but since then improvements have been sparse. Developing countries, those too often faced with few resources and treatment options, suffer the most. In Africa, an estimated four-fifths of childhood cancer patients do not survive. But the strict regulatory nature of pediatric drugs, including somewhat outmoded research methods, is just as problematic in Europe and the U.S.
An associate director at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Hematology and Oncology Products calls for global cooperation, insisting on the acknowledgement “that childhood cancer is a growing problem” that needs more international collaboration in clinical research.
Collaboration like The National Children’s Cancer Society Global Outreach Program, which helps facilitate donations of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to countries in need. Since 1993, NCCS has distributed more than $292 million in medical help across 41 countries. That’s more than 108,000 children who have been treated or helped by the joint efforts of NCCS and their pharmaceutical partners.
With collaborative efforts such as this, pediatric cancer patients from impoverished regions have better access to effective treatment, much-needed pharmaceuticals and methods for early detection. But there’s still a long way to go.
Oncologists say international progress depends on increasing the quality and quantity of drug research, with an emphasis on modernizing regulations and cooperative outreach. Making headway in research, combined with a higher volume of global aid programs from resources like NCCS, means more information and treatment options will be available to low-income countries.