Our International Footprint: Helping Kids With Cancer Around The World

by Becky C. Weaver, Chief Mission Officer, St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 15, 2016

Today is International Childhood Cancer Day. We believe all kids deserve to be cancer free, no matter where they are in the world. See how we’re helping kids with cancer globally.

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Every three minutes another child is diagnosed with cancer. Worldwide, more than 175,000 children are diagnosed each year. But these statistics don’t tell the whole story.

In the past several decades, with support and strategies from world leaders, developing countries have significantly reduced childhood deaths from infectious diseases. The same is not true for childhood cancer.

Surely all children’s lives are precious. Children with cancer are no less important than children fighting malaria, measles, malnutrition and other causes of death we work so hard to stop.

In most low- and middle-income countries, there are no cancer registries to give us accurate statistics. Children often go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, unreported and unrecorded.

Read how a cancer registry saved a baby’s life >

This matters. Not only for children in these countries, but for children everywhere.

Understanding the incidence, risk factors and genetics of childhood cancers from many geographic areas and ethnic groups gives researchers a more complete picture of the diseases they are working to cure.

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For example, the incidence of Burkitt lymphoma is highest in tropical areas of Africa and New Guinea, strongly associated with the Epstein-Barr virus and malaria. Some childhood cancers, like Wilms tumor and Ewing sarcoma, vary largely along ethnic lines, which shows that genetics play a role. And others, like retinoblastoma, are found more often in less affluent populations, and may be associated with poor living conditions.

All of these clues can help researchers looking for cures, and each discovery can benefit children no matter where they call home.

Lubega with kid

Dr. Joseph Lubega, a St. Baldrick’s International Scholar from Uganda, is researching new diagnostic tools for Burkitt lymphoma.

That’s why we’re committed to funding childhood cancer research here in the U.S. and beyond our borders.

  • St. Baldrick’s International Scholars are early-career researchers from low- or middle-income countries who train for 3-5 years in the U.S. or another developed country, and then return to conduct research in their home countries. We’re currently funding scholars from Central America, China, Malawi and Uganda.
  • A portion of the largest St. Baldrick’s grant each year goes to each member institution of the Children’s Oncology Group. While most are in the U.S., the COG currently has members in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and other countries.
  • The net proceeds of St. Baldrick’s fundraisers held in other countries are directed to childhood cancer organizations or research in those countries.

As world-renowned researcher Dr. Robert Arceci used to say, “Childhood cancer isn’t a national problem. It’s a global problem. And if we want to cure it, we need to think globally.”

Childhood cancer has no borders. And children are special, no matter what country they call home.

Join us as we stand in solidarity with children fighting cancer around the world, on this International Childhood Cancer Day — and every day.

YOU can make an impact for kids with cancer all around the world. Get involved today.

Get Involved

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