Thirty years ago, childhood cancer had a 50 percent survival rate.
Today, it’s jumped to 85 percent because of research and clinical trials, childhood cancer awareness advocates said. But more work needs to be done.
“Progress in childhood cancer has been dramatic in some areas, but progress remains disappointingly slow in other areas,” said Joy Donovan Brandon, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society in Fort Worth.
September is childhood cancer awareness month, a time to highlight the good and spotlight the need to dedicate more research to help fight childhood cancers, area advocates said.
Among the positives: Because of research, screening and better drugs, the cure rate is 96 percent for childhood leukemia, Donovan said. Still, the cancer society estimates that 15,780 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year for young people of ages birth to 19.
Advocates want people to learn more about childhood cancers, which typically include leukemia, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and neuroblastoma. This month educational programs, conferences, fundraising and focus on childhood cancers via social media are planned.
Sept. 10 is “Childhood Cancer Awareness Night” at Globe Life Park in Arlington during a Texas Rangers game.
On Facebook, efforts to build awareness about childhood cancer include the Gold World Project, in which buildings and landmarks will shine gold lights in support of the cause. The project urges people across the world to post pictures of the golden landmarks on its Facebook page.
The Pier One Building in Fort Worth will participate, according to a post on the Facebook page.
Cook Children’s Medical Center is launching a social media campaign Tuesday aimed at building awareness. The campaign is called #erasekidcancer. It asks people to spread the word about helping eliminate childhood cancers.
The campaign calls for participants to take a selfie in September that depicts #erasekidcancer. Participants can upload the selfies to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the #erasekidcancer and tag @cookchildrens.
As part of the campaign, participants can also change their Facebook cover photos to one provided by Cook Children’s that promotes the campaign. Finally, people donate to the cause online, said Kristin Peaks, senior digital and social media specialist at Cook Children’s.
Peaks said that every year about $5.1 billion is spent in the U.S. on cancer research but that childhood cancer only gets about 5 percent of that money.
Of the clinical trials nationwide, about 10 percent focus on pediatric trials for childhood cancer, she said.
“We really have to get the word out,” Peaks said. “Childhood cancer needs more funding.”