In many countries, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children over 1 year of age, exceeded only by accidents.

Fortunately, in recent years a great progress has been made in the treatment of childhood cancer. For example, acute leukemia that 30 years ago was considered inevitably fatal, at present, is the most frequent childhood cancer with a five-year survival exceeding 70%. Significantly, most patients can be cured.

Also, similar advances has been made in treatment of solid tumors; since, methods with radioation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy have been used in combination, long-term survival of childhood cancer has significantly increased.

Kids are different than adults and it is important, in general, to take action to any different sign or symptoms noted. In summary, while pediatric cancer can not be preventable, the goal of early detection can be achieved by health providers who do a comprehensive medical history, good medical exam, and believe in the parents.

Key facts


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Cancer is a leading cause of death for children and adolescents around the world and approximately 280,000 children aged 0 to 19 years old are diagnosed with cancer each year.

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In Latin America and the Caribbean, it is estimated that at least 29,000 children and adolescents under 19 years-old will be affected by cancer each year. Of them, around 10,000 will die due to this disease.

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Childhood cancer include a number of different types of tumours that develop in this population group. The most common categories of childhood cancers include leukemias, brain cancers, lymphomas and solid tumours, such as neuroblastoma and Wilms tumour.

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In general, in childhood cancer there is no primary prevention or detection through screening.

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In high-income countries, more than 80% of children with cancer are cured, but in many low- and middle-income countries the cure rate is only about 20%

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Avoidable deaths from childhood cancers in low- and middle-income countries result from lack of diagnosis, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, obstacles to accessing care, abandonment of treatment, death from toxicity, and higher rates of relapse.

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The impact of childhood cancer translates into years of life lost, greater inequalities and economic difficulties. This can and should change.

PAHO Response

Childhood Cancer Working Group

PAHO, together with UICC, governments, and academia convene to discuss strategies to reduce inequities and increase access to childhood cancer care in Latin America and the Caribbean. Improving access to care for children with cancer and reducing the inequities associated with outcomes for children with cancer in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is the main goal of PAHO's Childhood Cancer Working Group. The group, formed in 2017 on the heals of a policy dialogue by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), gathered the leading pediatric oncologists from public health institutions in LAC, as well as representatives from Canada's Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Chile, the University of West Indies and UICC.