EVERY year, around 4,500 kids are diagnosed with cancer – while 250 lose their young lives to the disease.
That’s the stark warning from one leading charity, this Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Mark Brider, acting CEO of Children with Cancer UK, said their aim is to highlight the impact cancer has on young people – and their families.
A new piece of research has shown one in five Brits know a child who has suffered the disease, while more than one in ten have known a child with leukaemia.
One of them is Blue Tobin, who was just two when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a rare and aggressive blood cancer, with a one in four survival rate.
His family were warned he wouldn’t make it, and mum Francesca said they faced “five years of hell”.
But, thanks to the love and support of Blue’s family, friends and medical team the youngster slowly started to regain his strength.
Now ten years old, Blue said: “It was painful and just destroys your body.
“It was scary, but at the same time I felt like I had people beside me helping me fight off the cancer, and those people were my doctors, my nurses, my mum, my nan, my grandad and the rest of my family.”
Blue was declared free of cancer at the age of seven, in May 2017 – something his mum describes as a “miracle”.
She said: “I am very, very proud of Blue today, but I am also very thankful to everyone who was involved in our journey.
“It was a very, very long, horrendous journey.”
Offering words of wisdom to other children with cancer, Blue said: “Make sure cancer doesn’t bring you down, and that you always have a smile and you always laugh.”
250 young lives lost a year
Despite cancer being the most common cause of death among young children in the UK, more than 90 per cent of people who took part were unaware around 250 young lives are lost to the disease each year.
The study also found three in 10 adults are unaware of the long-term side effects of childhood cancer.
Fifty-six per cent did not know suffering from childhood cancer could lead to secondary cancer later in life while 54 per cent were unaware it could cause infertility later in life.
More than six in 10 (62 per cent) didn’t realise growth impairment can be a result of suffering from cancer at a young age.
And 70 per cent didn’t know that cancer treatment could cause behavioural issues.
Fifty-three per cent were also unaware of the potential impact of childhood cancer treatment on the mental health and wellbeing of children.
Almost 30 per cent of people surveyed in the research, conducted by OnePoll, also said they thought more than 10 per cent of cancer research funding would be allocated to childhood cancer research.
In reality, only three per cent goes towards researching paediatric cancers.
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Mr Brider said: “Childhood cancers are very different to those found in adults, but all too often doctors have to rely upon treatments designed for adults, not children.
“This can leave children facing lifelong health problems as their small bodies struggle to cope with toxic medicines.
“This makes childhood cancer research vital to improving survival rates as well as quality of survival.
“With the help of our supporters, Children with Cancer UK currently fund more than 60 research projects across the UK, however, more funding is needed to drive breakthroughs and provide ongoing support to children and families facing cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
For more information visit Children with Cancer UK’s website here.