Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Teens with Cancer

Childhood cancers affect children and young adults ages 0-20. Cure rates have been steadily increasing over the last 20-30 years.
However, in the 15-20 year age group, no improvement has been made. Yes, teens with cancer die at the same rate as they did in the 80s. Teens have the poorest prognisis for cancer of all age groups, including adults. While the cure rate has stayed the same, incidence has increased. This means that even though more teens are being diagnosed and dying of cancer evey year, we haven't been able to improve their treatment in the last 30 years.
Teens also expirience the highest rate of secondary cancers due to the chemotherapy they recieve, and often suffer more side effects. Teens are harder to treat because they sit in the chasm between adulthood and childhood.
Teen and adolescent cancers are also notoriously under researched. While childhood cancer is under funded and under researched as a whole, teens are the group least represented. They are often left out of both adult and childhood research due to their age.
Why are we treating childhood cancer like we did in the 80s? In no other branch of medicine is this acceptable. In the past 30 years, hundreds of new and innovative treatments and therapies have been created and implemented in medicine. Imagine getting heart surgury with equipment and techniques from the 80s. That just wouldn't be acceptable. But that is how childhood cancer is treated. In the past 25 years, only one new drug has been approved for pediatric cancer use. The rest of the treatments are either at least 25 years old or hand me down treatments from adult cancers, which are often not as effective.
Hand me downs and out dated treatments with awful side effects and sometimes dismal outcomes are not acceptable. Our children and teens are worth more than this. Join the fight and help find new and better cures for childhood cancer.

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