Scots childhood cancer deaths rates fall

THE rate of children dying from cancer in Scotland has dropped by more than a third in the past decade, figures released today reveal.

Every year, around 110 children in Scotland are diagnosed with the disease. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Every year, around 110 children in Scotland are diagnosed with the disease. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Every year, around 110 children in Scotland are diagnosed with the disease. A decade ago, some 30 died from it annually, but improvements in treatments have resulted in this dropping to around 20.

The steepest decline is in leukaemia, the most commonly diagnosed children’s cancer, where death rates have fallen by two fifths, dropping from around ten deaths each year to approximately five.

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Cancer Research UK said much of the success was due to combining a number of different chemotherapy drugs and improvements in imaging and radiotherapy techniques.

The figures were published at the launch of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

The charity is also marking the tenth year of the Give Up Clothes for Good campaign which raises money to fund research to beat children’s cancer.The campaign, in partnership with TK Maxx, now runs year round with special bins provided in stores across the country. Once sold in the charity’s shops, each bag of pre-worn clothing and accessories could be worth up to £30.

Lisa Adams, the charity’s spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “It’s so encouraging to see more and more children surviving cancer. We hope the figures released today will inspire people to give what they can – unwanted clothes really can save lives.

“Over the last ten years we’ve completed life-saving research that would not have been possible without our unique partnership with TK Maxx and their dedication to creating more tomorrows for children and their families.

“But we can’t stop now. Sadly, not every child survives cancer and we must continue to fight for every child and every family. And many children who do survive will live with the long-term side effects of their treatment that can have an impact throughout their adult lives.

“It’s vital that we find kinder and more effective treatments, but we need the public’s help. Every item donated at TK Maxx will bring us a step closer to beating the disease sooner.”

TK Maxx, whose campaign is backed by supermodel and actress Jerry Hall, is funding the UK’s participation in an international children’s cancer trial to improve survival for children and young people with a type of brain tumour called ependymoma.

These tumours are often aggressive and difficult to treat and better therapies are urgently needed to improve survival and quality of life for young people and their families affected by this devastating disease.

The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Yorkhill, Glasgow, is one of 18 centres across the UK set to take part in this groundbreaking research.

Meanwhile, another cancer charity said there was a “shocking” lack of awareness of the devastating impact childhood cancer has on families. CLIC Sargent said 1,600 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK, but 32 per cent of adults in Scotland underestimated this number.