The Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Research Foundation (Inc.) (CLCRF) is a foundation inspired by families, for children around the world. Australia has one of the highest incidences of childhood cancer worldwide. One in 500 Australian children will develop a cancer before 15 years of age — that’s 600 Australian children diagnosed every year. Childhood cancer is the single greatest cause of death from disease in Australian children, with three children losing their lives to cancer every week. In Australia, childhood cancer is second only to breast cancer in terms of the number of years of life lost by the disease.
With childhood cancer still the leading cause of death from disease in Australian children, there is a lot of work to be done. There are still particular childhood cancers — such as brain tumours and neuroblastoma — with survival rates as low as 50 percent.
CLCRF is fighting to alleviate the suffering of children with cancer by funding research into more effective drug protocols, so that treatment for cancer is less invasive, and future generations will be able to live cancer-free. A laboratory that is dedicated to childhood cancer research was set up by the Foundation, and in order to provide the research team with some degree of security, the Foundation operates on a three-year block grant funding process.
CLCRF has a commitment to ensure this ground-breaking research continues so that the future generations will be the ones to live cancer free. The Foundation relies on the generous support of the community to continue its vital research and does not receive State or Federal funding.
How is Childhood Cancer Different?
Australia has one of the highest incidences of childhood cancer worldwide. Sadly, one in 500 Australian children will develop a cancer before 15 years of age and childhood cancer is still the leading cause of death from disease amongst Australian children.
Cancer in children is different from adult cancer, in that children are predominantly diagnosed with leukaemia, which is cancer of the blood or bone marrow, and lymphoma, which is cancer of the lymphatic system. As each child’s cancer is unique and responds differently to treatment, determining the best treatment protocol is challenging, to say the least.
Childhood cancer is a highly aggressive disease, and leukaemia patients under 12 months of age only have a 45 per cent survival rate. Adult cancer sufferers face a loss of five to 30 years due to cancer. In stark comparison, childhood survivors of cancer are likely to lose 67 years of life through cancer and its treatments.
Over a three-year treatment period, these children will have ingested up to 10 to 12 different drugs that would have significant negative side effects within their growing bodies. Late effects of treatment can include heart damage, second cancers, lung damage, infertility, cognitive impairment, growth deficits, hearing losses and more. Two-thirds of those who do survive face dealing with at least one chronic health condition for the rest of their lives. One quarter of survivors face a late effect of treatment that could be classified as severe or life-threatening.
This highlights the vital importance of further research into childhood cancer and the need to develop better treatment protocols to alleviate the suffering of these children.