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Saturday, June 25, 2022

New data shows higher survival rates for childhood cancers

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New research from Cancer Council has revealed clear evidence of ongoing progress in survival for Australian children with cancer.

In a new report titled Childhood cancer survival and avoided deaths in Australia, 1983 to 2016, researchers found that due to improvements in survival over the last 40 years, the actual number of deaths due to cancer among children under 15 years old has decreased substantially since the mid-1990s compared to the expected number of deaths if survival rates had remained the same. They concluded that survival for childhood cancer has continued to improve over recent years due to ongoing progress in the development of new and better treatments combined with improved supportive care.

To conduct the study, researchers from Cancer Council Queensland, Queensland Children’s Hospital, The University of Queensland and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute used information from the Australian Childhood Cancer Registry, one of the longest-running and most comprehensive national databanks of childhood cancer in the world. The ACCR is funded and managed by Cancer Council Queensland.

Lead author and Cancer Council Queensland researcher Associate Professor Danny Youlden said the findings offered reassurance to families of children diagnosed with cancer that survival rates in Australia were among the best in the world.

“When looking at this research, it’s clear survival has improved. This is exciting to see,” Assoc Prof. Youlden said.

“We found that five-year survival for all childhood cancers combined increased from 73% between 1983 and 1994 to 86% between 2007 and 2016. Put another way, this equates to over 1,500 expected deaths, or 39%, being potentially avoided for Australian children (under 15) diagnosed with cancer between 1995 and 2016 as a direct consequence of the large improvement in survival.”

Trends in cancer survival provide an important benchmark for gauging the effectiveness of cancer treatment and follow-up care.

While the study highlights substantial improvements in survival for many types of childhood cancer over the past decades, a few exceptions remain. For example, there has been little to no improvement in survival for children diagnosed with liver cancer or certain types of brain and bone tumours.

Assoc Prof. Youlden said the findings also emphasise the need for further investment into childhood cancer research, with the Australian Childhood Cancer Registry being integral to ongoing monitoring of progress.

“Childhood cancer is rare, but highly significant for the child and their family. Research is essential to further improve outcomes for Australian families impacted by a childhood cancer diagnosis.”

Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Tanya Buchanan, agreed, noting the importance of research in ensuring all children diagnosed with cancer can look to the future with hope.

“By investing in research, we can continue to help reduce the impact of cancer for all Australians, and this study is a great example of the impact of that investment. The more breakthroughs and discoveries our brilliant researchers can make through their important work, the more lives we can save.”

Dr Andy Moore, a Paediatric Oncologist at Queensland Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor at The University of Queensland, explained “Going into this study, we knew that overall survival rates for childhood cancer had improved over previous decades, but this study highlights the most important aspect of that – the number of childhood cancer deaths prevented. However, cancer remains the leading cause of disease-related death among children aged 1 to 14 in Australia, and we still need better treatment options for both the children with curable cancers and those with poor outcomes.”

The research Childhood cancer survival and avoided deaths in Australia, 1983 to 2016 has been published in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, and can be accessed here:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ppe.12895

Mick Pachollihttp://www.tagg.com.au
Mick created TAGG - The Alternative Gig Guide in 1979 with Helmut Katterl, the world's first real Street Magazine. He had been involved with his fathers publishing business, Toorak Times and associated publications since 1972.  Mick was also involved in Melbourne's music scene for a number of years opening venues, discovering and managing bands and providing information and support for the industry. Mick has also created a number of local festivals and is involved in not for profit and supporting local charities.