Evaluating pediatric cancer through the lens of time

Memphis, Tennessee, July 29, 2019

Drs. Lisa Force and Nickhill Bhakta discuss latest findings

A new study shows there is a much greater burden of childhood cancer in low- and middle-income countries than previously thought.

A St. Jude-Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation study is changing how pediatric cancer is viewed worldwide. Researchers looked at the number of years of life affected by cancer. It is the first time this metric has been used to analyze the childhood cancer burden globally.

Evaluating impact by years of life affected may provide a more complete view of global cancer burden. In childhood cancer, early deaths mean many years of life lost. Survivors can also live for many years with chronic disability.

“Previous estimates put the childhood cancer burden in the hundreds of thousands globally,” said Nickhill Bhakta, M.D., of the St. Jude Department of Global Pediatric Medicine. “By looking at a different metric, disability-adjusted life years, we can now show for the first time that this burden is significant and underappreciated in both the cancer and child health communities.”

The study shows that globally in 2017 about 11.5 million years of life were affected due to childhood cancer. Of these, 97.3% were due to years of life lost.

Most of this burden occurs in low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa and Central and South America. This metric is comparable across diseases. The study’s results may help experts set public health priorities.  

This work was published in Lancet Oncology.

Read the news release.

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