Significant global investment could save 11 million children

A significant, sustained, global investment in treating children with cancer could save 11 million lives and yield a triple return on investment, according to a Lancet Oncology Commission report published by Lancet.

Global childhood cancer rates are on the rise as more children worldwide survive infancy. Today, more than 80% of children with cancer live in low- and middle-income countries, where they lack access to adequate diagnosis and treatment. Most of those children will die from their disease. This is a sharp contrast to developed nations where survival rates for pediatric cancers exceed 80%.

The Commission report, titled Sustainable Care for Children with Cancer, analyzed the potential return of a cumulative, global investment of $594 billion in three simultaneous interventions. These interventions include access to primary care and specialist care, treatment such as chemotherapy and surgery, and supportive services to reduce treatment abandonment. The result could be 11 million lives saved and a 3-to-1 lifetime productivity gain of almost $2 trillion to the global economy.

"Our findings indicate that $20 billion (US) of funding per year over a 30-year period could bring a return of $3 for every dollar spent. This report should reassure policymakers that a sizeable return on investment is realistic and feasible," said St. Jude Global Director Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD, who co-chaired the commission. "Without this investment to halt millions of needless deaths from childhood cancer, we are unlikely to reach the commission's sustainable development goals."

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital