The World Health Organization have released a report that sets out evidence on childhood cancer inequalities in the European Region, and examines the patterns that emerge at national and regional levels of childhood cancer incidence, patient and caregiver experiences, and short- and long-term outcomes for patients. The report details how the 5-year overall survival rate for children with cancer increased from 30% in the 1960s to over 80% in recent times, a success that is attributed to different factors, including better medicines, diagnostics and access to care. The main message of the report, however, is that this progress has not been experienced equally across the Region, with a significant proportion of the thousands of children diagnosed with cancer annually still dying.
The report looks at how children and families who experience childhood cancer are impacted by inequalities in different ways:
- inequalities between countries, for example between countries in eastern and western Europe, and all along the cancer care continuum, from early detection to treatment and palliative care;
- inequalities within countries and attributable to socioeconomic backgrounds, gender, age, geography (rural/urban) and other factors;
- childhood cancer as a cause of inequalities, for example, how a childhood cancer diagnosis can create or exacerbate inequalities and how difficulties for survivors can continue into adulthood affecting their long-term health, well-being, mental health and employment opportunities.
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