Almost Half of All Kids With Cancer Go Undiagnosed and Untreated

Children are “dying at home.”

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A new global study revealed that about half of children with cancer are untreated because they were never diagnosed.

In Europe and North America only 3% of kids were undiagnosed in 2015, however on the global health stage, south Asian and western African children see rates of undiagnosed cancers of 49% and 57% respectively.

Zachary Ward, the study’s author from Harvard University, said this means that kids are “dying at home untreated.” He added that “cancer survival even among diagnosed cases is already poor in these countries, but it is going to be basically 0% for children if they are not identified.”

Youngsters with cancer in these areas often go misdiagnosed as suffering from TB and malaria are common and doctors confuse the symptoms.

“Once we started to consider really what the challenges are that these children face, it is not that surprising that we are missing so many of them in these countries,” Ward told The Guardian.

Ward’s team was able to use a computer model to estimate the number of diagnosed and undiagnosed childhood cancer cases in some 200 territories and countries around the globe. Data from cancer registries were also used.

That study found that ff the almost 400,000 childhood cancer cases around the world, 224,000 children were diagnosed leaving 43% of cases undiagnosed.

Ward is hopeful that the data will shine a light on developing countries and the real need for cancer diagnosis and said, “the good news is that universal health coverage expansion, which a lot of countries have already committed themselves to, will help children access the health system.”

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