KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Nearly half of childhood cancer cases around the world are undiagnosed and untreated, a study has shown.
The research published in The Lancet Oncology found that the problem varied substantially among regions, ranging from a mere 3 per cent in western Europe and North America to 49 per cent in south Asia and a whopping 57 per cent in western Africa.
The global rate of undiagnosed childhood cancer cases was 43 per cent, as the model in the study estimated 397,000 cases of childhood cancer occurring worldwide in 2015, out of which only 224,000 were diagnosed.
“It means that a lot of these children unfortunately are dying at home untreated,” the Guardian quoted Zachary Ward, first author of the research from Harvard University, as saying.
“Cancer survival even among diagnosed cases is already poor in these countries, but it is going to be basically 0 per cent for children if they are not identified.”
The research study estimated 6.7 million childhood cancer cases worldwide from 2015 to 2030, out of which 2.9 million cases will be undiagnosed in that time.
“Childhood cancer is substantially underdiagnosed, especially in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (including western, eastern, and southern Africa).
“In addition to improving treatment for childhood cancer, health systems must be strengthened to accurately diagnose and effectively care for all children with cancer,” said a summary of the study.
The study used a microsimulation model to simulate childhood cancer incidence for 200 countries, including data on barriers to health care access and referrals that led to underdiagnosis.