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Emergence of cancer as major cause of childhood death in developing countries is not being adequately addressed

The emergence of cancer as a major cause of death among children in developing regions of the world is not being adequately addressed by national or international health organizations and charities, according to investigators at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This growing rate of pediatric cancer is occurring as the number of children dying from infectious diseases is being reduced through the efforts of the World Health Organization and international charities, the researchers say.

Health care organizations and charities have traditionally focused on relatively inexpensive strategies for combating infectious diseases, said Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., director of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Division at St. Jude and American Cancer Society F.M. Kirby clinical research professor. This decision has left many children with cancer in much of the developing regions of Asia, South and Central America, Africa and the Middle East without access to effective medical treatment, he added. Pui is a co-author of an editorial on the geographical inequality of pediatric cancer treatment that appears in the May 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“More than 60 percent of the world’s children have little or no access to effective cancer therapy,?Pui said. “And their survival rates are very inferior to rates in countries with advanced health care systems. However, the World Health Organization and many international charities don’t even list chronic diseases, including cancer, as health priorities on their agendas.?/p>

The increasing pediatric cancer death rate in countries with limited resources is especially tragic because strategies exist that could be used to ensure wider access to effective cancer treatment, according to Raul C. Ribeiro, M.D., director of the St. Jude International Outreach Program and another co-author of the editorial. The authors note that one of the most effective strategies is a cooperative process between institutions, called twin
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Source:St. Jude Children's Research Hospital


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