Childhood Cancer Steals 11 Million Years of Human Life, Annually

Alarming new data shows that pediatric cancer cases in the United States have surged nearly 50 percent in the thirty-year period before 2015, according to the US National Cancer Institute.  In addition, the agency estimates that as many as 16,000 children (between the ages of birth to 19) will have received a new diagnosis in 2018, alone.  

This data, on its own, would be cause for concern, but it appears that the rise may be the result of an increasingly carcinogen-toxic environment—particularly from industrial waste and pollutants.  

To put this into perspective, there are approximately 2.2 billion children worldwide. Of this number, the most recent data suggests that 416,500 of them have been diagnosed with cancer, with around 25 percent of that number (more than 142,000) estimated to die from the disease ever year.  That might appear to be only a small percentage of human beings—and it is—but childhood cancer claims a total of roughly 11 million years from children that could have lived long and healthy lives if not for their toxic environments. 

First of all, this new study warns that cancer—and particularly among children—is frequently underdiagnosed.  And those who are diagnosed do not always have immediate access to quality health care that could help treat their disease. In all, the study seems to conclude, this contributes to unfortunately premature death and disability and, eventually, claiming those 11 million collective healthy years. 

Of course, these lost lives are not just bad for the children who suffer, and not just for their parents and families, but for the communities around them as well. Lead study author Lisa Force is a pediatric oncologist with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  She advises that this study is the most comprehensive investigation into what is known as the “disease burden” of childhood cancer.  You see, most childhood cancers are curable, but too many children—and their families—face a preponderance of challenges in gaining access to the appropriate facilities or treatments.  

And to quantify this burden, researchers combined data from the 2017 Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study in a computer model that estimated the disability-adjusted life years. That study compiles data from multiple universities and health organizations regarding the scale and scope of various illnesses and its risk on the world’s population.