Children painting a wall to spread cancer awareness in Pune. (TOI file photo)
However, due to India’s huge population, even a smaller proportion translates into huge numbers in absolute terms. Moreover, unlike in the western countries, where the proportion of adult and paediatric population is almost equal, youngsters below 35 years account for over 65% of India’s population.
For the first time, the new Lancet study also quantifies the burden of paediatric cancer in terms of the number of health years lost for a country. “The number of new cancer cases in children and adolescents (0-19 years) is relatively low around 4,16,500 globally in 2017, but treatment-related ill-health and disability and fatal cancer are estimated to cause 11.5 million years of healthy life lost globally every year,” it said.
The GBD-Lancet study was conducted by St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, and University of Washington in Seattle, and funded by Bill & Melinda Gates and others.
“Lack of diagnosis, access to healthcare and a younger population are responsible for disproportionately large childhood cancer burden in many of the poorest countries,” the study said.