Preventing childhood cancer

Childhood cancer is one of the major causes of death and serious illness in children, with almost 300,000 children developing cancer and 80,000 deaths around the world each year. While many children in high-income countries are successfully treated, the survival rate for children with cancer in  low- and middle-income countries can be as low as 10% in some settings. 

Scientific research has resulted in some important progress in treating children with the disease, but surprisingly little is known about the causes (etiology) of childhood cancers, a gap that must be addressed if we are to advance prevention of the disease.

What is known, is that a child’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age and genetics, while environmental exposures experienced by both mother and baby are also thought to carry influence. However, further evidence is needed to understand the role of these factors, and how interventions in early-life might reduce the risk of cancer in childhood.

In order to establish this evidence, The George Institute for Global Health, UK’s childhood cancer research programme is bringing together multidisciplinary teams of clinicians, epidemiologists, and scientists to share knowledge and accumulate sufficient cases for epidemiologic study.

The team take the lead on two global cohorts, the International Cancer Cohort Consortium (I4C) and the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health (CDAH) Study, with the hope of supporting public health efforts in forging life-saving pathways for children around the world who live with – or who are at risk of developing – cancer.