Childhood cancer incidence: a comparison with cystic fibrosis
In the UK, cystic fibrosis is a rare but very serious condition that hugely affects the quality of life and life expectancy of individuals. It is however a condition that we as General practitioners are aware of and probably at the very least had a series of medical school lectures on, and know what to look for.
So how does cystic compare in terms of incidence with childhood cancer?
The incidence of cancer in children and young people is ten times more common than that of cystic fibrosis and results in 3.7 times as many deaths a year in the UK.
Long term survival rates of childhood cancer survivors (5 years in remission) is significantly better than those of individuals with cystic fibrosis. However, remember that the 5 year survival of childhood cancer is only 82% (survival in young people is 84%).
Take home message:
Cancer in children and young people is not as rare as we think. So much more needs to be done on awareness and education into the signs and symptoms. With 1 in 285 children and young people affected before their 20th birthday (American cancer Society, 2014), it is something that we, as clinicians need to be aware of in general practice.