It's not great news - yet. Only news announcing the elimination of childhood cancer could be classified as great. But, while we move toward that goal, this news is certainly encouraging: kids with cancer are living longer.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the death rate for children with cancer declined sharply between 1990 and 2004. The overall decline was about 20%. The decline in death rates is not due to fewer cancer cases, as the number of new cases has remained stable. Rather, the decline is due to more effective treatments for a variety of childhood cancers.
One group that has not experienced the same level of decline is U.S. Hispanics. Their death rate has declined by only 1% per year, compared to the overall average of 1.7% per year. That's a significant difference. Officials say the problem for Hispanics is multi-faceted. They are less likely to have health insurance, have poorer access to care, and suffer from cultural and linguistic barriers. With the continued growth of the Hispanic population, this is an area requiring immediate attention.
So, the news is good. But, with over 2,000 children still dieing each year from cancer, the work is far from complete. Let's roll up those sleeves, pour some coffee and get to work - the children are counting on us.