René Marsh: This Mother’s Day, join the fight against pediatric cancer

I’m sorry I can’t bathe Blake, hold him, or hear his angelic voice. What’s worse is the fact that so many mothers across the country are experiencing this agony; about 2,000 children die of cancer every year in the US. Today I send a call to action to every mother and woman who yearns to be one: let us use our strength in the fight to save children from cancer. Mothers have a long history of activism when it comes to fighting for voting rights, ending segregation and preventing drunk driving. It is time to tackle childhood cancer by addressing inadequate research funding and the lack of treatments specifically developed for children. Cancer in children is often more aggressive than cancer in adults, and the two can differ in molecular makeup. However, children are often forced to rely on adult cancer drugs that have dangerous toxicity and side effects, including killing healthy cells in the developing bodies of children. The pharmaceutical industry has not prioritized research and development of cancer drugs for children, which represent a much smaller share of the market than adults. When will corporate responsibility become fashionable for this industry that has been making profits over doing well for decades?

Children don’t stand a chance in this for-profit industry when you consider that adult cancer drugs are among the best-selling drugs every year for companies like Merck & Co., Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson. .

According to an Evaluate Pharma analysis in 2020, the industry made $ 145.4 billion from oncology drugs alone and is projected to raise $ 311.2 billion by 2026, representing 21% of the pharmaceutical industry’s total revenue.

Removing the misleading measure of success

At first glance, the statistics on childhood cancer seem promising and suggest that we should all breathe a sigh of relief. If you read, “Over the past 50 years, childhood cancer survival rates have risen from 10% to nearly 80%,” you can easily miss the urgent need for more funding for childhood cancer research and the development of more effective – and less severe – cancer treatments for children.

While it’s true that technology and treatments have improved over the past 50 years, leading to a better survival rate, the optimistic childhood cancer statistics don’t tell the whole story.

First of all, doctors and researchers use the term “survival rate” to refer to patients who have survived five years after diagnosis. This measure dates back to the 1930s when surviving cancer for more than five years was an almost unattainable goal. Second, it includes not only children in remission, but also children who are still undergoing treatment and children who die of incurable cancers, said Dr. Douglas Hawkins, a clinician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and chair of the Children’s Oncology Group. Finally, the metric ignores five-year relapses, five-year deaths, and the burden of chronic health problems in the children who do survive. According to a 2006 study examining the health of adults diagnosed with childhood cancer between 1970 and 1986, the metric ignores follow the. 30 years after diagnosis, nearly 40% will experience serious or life-threatening complications, including kidney failure, heart failure, secondary cancers, hearing or vision loss and premature death. These complications are, in most cases, a result of the cancer treatments, according to Dr. Greg Armstrong of St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

The consequence of the misleading measure of “survival rates” is that what is not measured correctly is not managed effectively. In other words, Congress, government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, and other policymakers are using data that only partially reflects the burden of childhood cancer in developing health policies and making research funding decisions.

A call to action

Mothers can use our collective power to change the way the federal government and pharmaceutical companies prioritize children in the fight against cancer. That means using our platforms to raise awareness about the problem and let our elected officials know that we support our children with cancer and expect more funding. Specifically, you can sign this petition and share it with others. The petition urges Biden’s government and Congress to have a comprehensive plan to end childhood cancer as part of their national plan to eradicate the disease. This should include a plan to both work with the pharmaceutical industry to stimulate more aggressive development of anti-cancer drugs in children, and to urge Congress to increase government research funding. meaningful research. I chose the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation to honor Blake and because there is still so much about brain cancer in children that is not yet understood. specifically for pediatric cancer research, so donating to legitimate pediatric cancer organizations is important.

In this movement to make childhood cancer a national priority, we protect our children’s future and their ability to fulfill their dreams. We protect the experiences we hope to share with them as they grow up. A mother’s love is powerful. A woman’s love is powerful. Let’s use that power to protect our country’s most precious resource.

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