Almost Half Of All Children With Cancer Are Not Diagnosed, Study Suggests

"Universal health coverage - a target of UN Sustainable Development Goals - must include cancer in children as a priority to prevent needless deaths", he said in a statement.

A new study reveals some troubling statistics about childhood cancer. But 92 percent of all new cases occur in low- and middle-income countries, more than previously thought, the researchers said.

Experts say if health systems don't improve there could be almost 3-million missed cases of childhood cancer worldwide by the year 2030.

Accurate estimates are essential for setting health care priorities, and planning for effective diagnosis and treatment of all kids with cancer, Ward said in a journal news release.

The data comes from a microsimulation model from the Global Childhood Cancer that combines information from the cancer registries in various countries with the World Health Organization's Global Health Observatory. They argue that current healthcare models, which concentrate treatment in a few specialised hospitals, are not enough. In high-income countries, more than 80 percent of children with cancer are cured, but that number drops to just 20 percent in low- and middle-income countries.

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As with many diseases, the disparity between rich and developing nations is stark.

The authors note that their study is limited by cancer registry data that is available and predictions in Africa could be influenced by the country's representation. In practice, some cases might be diagnosed but not recorded, or might be incorrectly classified because of deficient pathology services.

He said under-diagnosis had been acknowledged as a problem and the new model provided specific estimates that had been lacking.

"The patients will nearly certainly die, although cancer will not be listed on a death certificate", noted Eva Steliarova-Foucher, a scientist at the UN-backed International Agency for Research on Cancer, commenting on the study. Atun is a professor of global health systems at Harvard.

"Health systems in low-income and middle-income countries are clearly failing to meet the needs of children with cancer", Rifat Atun, a researcher at Harvard University, as well as senior author on the study. To contact the author, please use the contact details within the article.

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