What You Should Know About Pediatric Cancer

Gold ribbon for cancerAre you aware?

Every school day, 46 children will be diagnosed with cancer.

Kids get cancer too. In fact, it’s the #1 cause of death by disease in children.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  

Given the statistics, you would think that there would be more attention paid to the subject.  After all, every time October rolls around, we are inundated with images of pink ribbons on products as varied as spatulas and post-it notes raising awareness about breast cancer.

Are you aware?

While it’s true that breast cancer has a higher incidence in our population (1 in 8 women will receive a diagnosis in her lifetime), the money and attention devoted to pediatric cancers by researchers and funding agents is astoundingly low.   The National Cancer Institute’s budget tops $4.6 billion, but pediatric cancers receive less than 3% of that funding.

Are you aware?

While most adult cancers are linked to lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, occupation, and environmental exposure, the cause of most pediatric cancers is unknown and, currently, unpreventable.  Funding research to cure adult cancers does not automatically help in the search for a cure for pediatric cancers.

Are you aware?

1 in 5 children diagnosed with cancer will not live to adulthood.  For some forms of pediatric cancer, the survival rate is less than 20%.

Are you aware?

Not all cancer research organizations are created equally.  Last year, the Children’s Cancer Research Fund budgeted $2.7 million for research but they also spent $9.8 million on marketing, advertising, and fundraising expenses.  Conversely, Cure Search, the main funder of the Children’s Oncology Group, devotes over 90% of its budget to funding of programs such as research and grants with only 3% of its budget devoted to fundraising expenses.  Use online tools such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar so that you know what your donations are really funding.

Now that you are aware, here are some things that you can do:

Support local and national organizations that fund cancer research as well as support for families in need.
Local organizations include: ASK, ReeseStrong, Connors Heroes, and CJs Thumbs Up Foundation.
National Organizations of note: CureSearch, St. Judes Childrens Hospital, & Cookies for Kids Cancer

Donate blood or platelets.  Cancer patients often require transfusions to replace components of the blood often depleted during chemotherapy and radiation.  All blood types are needed.

Knowledge is power.  Share the facts on your favorite social media sites.  Let’s make the gold ribbon as ubiquitous as the pink one.  Awareness doesn’t always equal activism but it’s a step in the right direction.

*pediatric cancer statistics courtesy of Team Unite



  1. You are not comparing apple to apples.

    Cure Search received 79% of its funding from a government grant, 15% from private grants and only 8% from individual donors.

    Nearly all of Children's Cancer Research Fund's funding comes from individuals, and I can attest it takes considerable effort to reach our 160,000 donors. There are some who still write us $2 checks. We are grateful for all who give.

    I'd like to clarify on your numbers regarding CCRF. CCRF spent $110,000 on marketing and advertising. I know because I manage that budget. We are fortunate to have some great in-kind advertising assets to help spread our message and inspire individuals to give. $7,140,000 was dedicated to programs including research, quality-of-life patient support and education.

    This past fiscal year 2011 we spent 80% on programs, 18% on fundraising (printing and mailing of direct mail being the main expense) and 2% on admin. I am happy to also share that despite the economy, we were able to increased research dollars by 20% and this fiscal year, we've already secured a $5 million donation dedicated to research, so we're off to a great start.

    What will never show up on a 990 is that we invest in a research team who is very successful in securing NIH grants. Thus every $1 we give to them to fund their proof-of-principal research, they receive $18 on average in additional funding from other sources.That's how we were able to get three brain tumor vaccines to trial.

    Without our direct mail, which we know is not the cheapest way to fundraise, we would give much less to lifesaving research and not have the ability to reach far and wide. We could stick to major gifts, but we would be leaving many out of the process of supporting kids with cancer.

    I'd be happy to continue this discussion.

    Thank you,

    Kris Huson
    Children's Cancer Research Fund

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