It’s all very busy at Lennox Children’s Cancer Fund this week as they prepare for the biggest month of the year – September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Whilst being a small charity is year-round hard work for the team at Lennox, September is extra-special as they join forces with other children’s cancer charities across the UK to spread the message far and wide that childhood cancers are a real issue, and need to be spotted early to provide the best chances of survival.
Charities including Lennox will raise their public and social media profiles to help educate and encourage a heightened awareness of the disease. The general public can expect to see facts, figures and statistics to help them spot potential cancer in children, as well as real stories of families making the journey through diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
Cancer in children is thankfully rare. It accounts for approximately 1% of cancer cases in the UK, which sounds like a positive fact, but not for the families of approximately 1,850 children each year who are diagnosed with some form of cancer.
Children’s cancers have an average survival rate of around 80%. Again, this sounds pretty good, but tell that to the parents of 230 children each year who sadly don’t win their fight.
Some childhood cancers, such as a DIPG Brain Tumour (now known as DMG – Diffuse Midline Glioma), still have no effective treatment, meaning their survival rate is classed as 0% – the same as forty years ago. DMG makes up approximately 2% of childhood cancer cases, affecting 20-30 children in the UK each year with an average survival period from diagnosis of just nine months. Less than 1% of children diagnosed with a DMG will survive five years after diagnosis.
These statistics alone, plus the fact that most people don’t know them, (and yet cancer could affect anyone’s child at any time), really help to highlight why Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is needed.
Some parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer have even said that their doctors didn’t know the signs, and initially diagnosed something much more minor, such as a simple virus. Many of these have said their child’s cancer would have been diagnosed much sooner, and their chances of survival increased dramatically, had everybody been more aware of the signs and symptoms to look for.
The symbol of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is the gold ribbon, which will be visible throughout the media as the month progresses.
You can help charities like Lennox to raise awareness by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sharing their content, and even inviting your friends to read this article. Perhaps make a donation towards Lennox’s work supporting families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer, or buy a gold ribbon badge and encourage conversations about childhood cancer with your friends and family – it’s an unpleasant topic, but one that needs to be discussed more openly if we are to reduce the number of children killed by cancer every year.