Some 45 percent of youngsters with cancer are left undiagnosed and untreated, according to an innovative study of the disease’s global footprint among under-15s, published Wednesday. Worldwide, there are some 400,000 new cases of childhood cancer annually, however barely 0.5 are logged in national health registries, researchers reported in The Lancet Oncology, a medical journal.
“The patients can virtually actually die, although cancer won't 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 percent of countries don't even have cancer registries, and of those that do may only cover a fraction of the population.
The new method for calculating illness burden additionally incorporates data from the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory, together with health and household surveys developed by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. Researchers took under consideration general levels of access to medical aid and referrals to specialised care.
“Our model suggests that almost one in two youngsters with the disease are never diagnosed and may die untreated,” aforementioned 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 several diseases, the inequality between rich and developing nations is stark. The survey of data from two hundred countries shows that more than half childhood disease cases in Africa, south-central Asia and also the Pacific Islands slip through the healthcare internet. Against this, solely three percent of cases are unknown within the United State, Europe and Canada.
The number of latest cases in 2015, the foremost recent year analysed, was stable or declining in most regions, however, remained extremely focused – 92 percent -- in low- and middle-income nations. The foremost common non-adult cancer that year in most components of the world -- with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa -- was acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which affects white blood cells.
“Health systems in low- and middle-income countries are clearly failing to satisfy the wants of youngsters with cancer,” aforementioned senior author Rifat Atun, a professor at Harvard University. “Universal health coverage -- a target of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals -- must include cancer in children as a priority to prevent needless deaths,” he said in a statement.
The authors estimate that there will be 6.7 million new cases of childhood cancer worldwide between 2015 and 2030. Of these, nearly three million will go undetected unless health systems improve rapidly. Barriers to access and referral in healthcare systems remains a major problem and account for a large portion of undiagnosed cancer cases in children, the researchers said.