July 30, 2019 - 17:41 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - While the number of new cancer cases in children and adolescents (aged 0-19 years) is relatively low at around 416,500 globally in 2017, treatment-related ill-health and disability and fatal cancer are estimated to cause around 11.5 million years of healthy life lost globally every year, according to the first Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) to assess childhood and adolescent cancer burden in 195 countries in 2017, published in The Lancet Oncology journal.
Children in the poorest countries face a disproportionately high cancer burden -- contributing over 82% of the global childhood cancer burden -- equivalent to almost 9.5 million years of healthy life lost in 2017. Most (97%) of this global burden is related to premature death, with around 3% due to impaired quality of life, Science Daily reports.
For the first time, researchers provide a complete picture of the global and regional burden of childhood cancer beyond incidence, mortality, and survival. The study estimates the number of years of healthy life that children and adolescents with cancer have lost due to illness, disability, and premature death -- a measurement known as disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). One DALY is equivalent to one year of healthy life lost. However, disability in childhood cancer survivors was limited to the first 10 years after cancer diagnosis, rather than across the whole life course, so the global burden of DALYs associated with childhood cancer is probably underestimated, researchers say.
"By assessing the global burden of childhood cancer through the lens of disability-adjusted life-years, we can more comprehensively understand the devastating impact of cancer on children globally," says Dr Lisa Force from St Jude Children's Research Hospital in the USA, who led the research in collaboration with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. "Our findings are an important first step in establishing that childhood cancer has a role in frameworks that address global oncology and global child health."
Children with cancer who live in high-income countries tend to have good survival, with around 80% surviving 5 years after diagnosis. But these improvements have not translated to most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where survival is approximately 35-40%, but some estimates suggest it could be as 20%. Around 90% of children at risk of developing cancer live in LMICs.