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Global childhood leukaemia survival varies

Wednesday April 12th, 2017

Global inequalities in survival from childhood leukaemia have narrowed with time - but remain very wide, according to a major global analysis published today.

Dr Audrey Bonaventure of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, and colleagues explain that diagnostic techniques and treatment for childhood leukaemia have improved since the 1990s.

However, access to these techniques and treatment is limited in some countries, partly due to a shortage of resources.

They carried out a population-based study of cancer registries covering children aged up to 14 years who were diagnosed with leukaemia between 1995 and 2009. This covered 89,828 children in 53 countries.

During 1995 to 1999, five-year survival for all lymphoid leukaemias combined ranged from 10.6% to 86.8%, depending on country. The lowest rate was in China and the highest in Austria.

"International differences in five-year survival for childhood leukaemia were still large as recently as 2005 to 2009," the researchers report in The Lancet Haematology.

This ranges from 52.4% in Colombia to 91.6% in Germany.

"These results provide useful information for health policy makers on the effectiveness of health care systems and for cancer policy makers to reduce inequalities in childhood cancer survival," the authors conclude.

"There is room for improvement in the management of childhood leukaemia in many countries," said Dr Bonaventure. "These findings show the extent of worldwide inequalities in access to optimal health care for children with cancer.

"We do not yet know how to prevent leukaemia in children, but optimal treatment offers the chance of long-term survival for most children. Providing additional resources, alongside evidence-based initiatives such as international collaborations and treatment guidelines, could improve access to efficient treatment and care for all children with leukaemia. This would contribute substantially to reducing worldwide inequalities in survival."

Bonaventure, A. et al. Worldwide comparison of survival from childhood leukaemia for 1995-2009, by subtype, age, and sex (CONCORD-2): a population-based study of individual data for 89 828 children from 198 registries in 53 countries. Lancet Haematology 12 April 2017; doi: 10.1016/S2352-3026(17)30052-2 [abstract]

Tags: Cancer | Child Health | UK News | World Health

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