Nearly half of children with cancer untreated: study

Some 45 per cent of children with cancer are left undiagnosed and untreated, according to an innovative study of the disease’s global footprint among under-15s, published on Wednesday.
Worldwide, there are some 400,000 news cases of childhood cancer each year, but barely half are logged in national health registries, researchers reported in The Lancet Oncology, a medical journal.
“The patients will almost certainly die, although cancer will not be listed on a death certificate,” noted Eva Steliarova-Foucher, a scientist at the UN-backed International Agency for Research on Cancer, commenting on the study.
Sixty per cent of countries do not even have cancer registries, and of those that do many only cover a fraction of the population.
The new method for calculating disease burden also incorporates data from the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory, along with health and household surveys developed by Unicef.
Researchers took into account general levels of access to primary care and referrals to specialised care.
“Our model suggests that nearly one in two children with cancer are never diagnosed and may die untreated,” said lead author Zachary Ward from Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.
“While under-diagnosis has been acknowledged as a problem, this model provides specific estimates that have been lacking.”
As with many diseases, the disparity between rich and developing nations is stark.
The survey of data from 200 countries shows that more than half of childhood cancer cases in Africa, south-central Asia and the Pacific Islands slip through the healthcare net.
By contrast, only three per cent of cases are undiagnosed in the United States, Europe and Canada. — AFP