How to Beat Childhood Cancer
PHILADELPHIA – For a parent, there is perhaps no greater fear than the prospect of losing a child to illness or accident. And it is childhood cancer that has the greatest potential to catapult a remote fear into an unimaginable reality. As a pediatric oncologist, having cared for children with cancer and their families for more than 25 years, I know that only a parent who has confronted such a diagnosis truly understands the depth of this fear, as it touches the core of who we are as parents.
I also know that we are treating more children more effectively than ever before – and that we can do much better still.
For a child born in the 1960’s, the diagnosis of the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), meant almost certain death, with a survival rate of less than 10%. A child with the same diagnosis today has a better than 80% chance of being cured. Looking at the five-year survival rates for children with ALL from the 1970’s through the 1990’s, one sees an almost linear improvement in cure rates.
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