Kathleen’s Desk

Now is the Time to Conquer Kids’ Cancer

by Kathleen Ruddy, CEO, St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 2, 2012

Hi friends,

It’s a little-known fact that only 4% of federal cancer research funding is directed to childhood cancers. And recent reports from the National Institute of Health show that research grant funding has reached its lowest point in history with the percentage of reviewed applications that receive funding at a meager 18% (read more).

Childhood cancers, already underfunded compared to other cancers, are included in the current cuts, so parents, who are in a race against the clock to save their children, are told that the resources are now scarcer than ever.

Officials at the National Cancer Institute report curing childhood cancers would be comparable to curing breast cancer in terms of patient years of life saved. Yet no reasonable person would argue breast cancer has “enough” resources, and certainly the widespread support for this important cause indicates the public, as well as the government and nonprofit sectors agree.

With the proliferation of retirement funds, college savings plans and insurance options on the market, I don’t believe people are unconcerned about the future – particularly their children’s. Why then should we accept that childhood cancers are less deserving of support, and why do children receive so little?

Is the quality of science employed to treat children inferior? Unquestionably, the answer is no. In fact, many of the greatest breakthroughs in cancer came from pediatrics: Chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation were first developed for children; the first gene therapies were undertaken in children; and the success of clinical trial and cooperative research in pediatric cancers have historically outpaced the progress in adult cancer groups. Today, success in adult cancers is measured in months, while success in childhood cancers is measured in years. I could go on. The bottom line is, with far fewer resources than their adult counterparts, childhood cancer researchers have achieved much for cancer patients of all ages.

And yet, more children still die of cancers than any other disease. When will be the right time to conquer the #1 disease killer of our children?

Success is achieved by rewarding hard work and progress with expanded opportunities. To help the St. Baldrick’s Foundation remain on the cutting edge of funding research that will make a real difference for kids fighting cancer, 19 of the country’s leading pediatric oncology researchers gathered for the second Research Priorities Summit in January. All cancer patients would be well-served if pediatric researchers were armed with the resources to make more breakthroughs.

Thankfully, you and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation are doing that.

The time to act is now. Share this report. Involve a friend.

Together, let’s CONQUER,

Kathleen Ruddy
Executive Director
St. Baldrick’s Foundation