In Developing Countries, Kids Struggle to Get Cancer Treatments

This is a guest post from Robert Landry, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Cancer Coalition.

Imagine if you were told your child has cancer. What would you do? Youíd fight. Without a doubt, you would help your child fight for their life.

Childhood cancer includes some of the most curable types of cancer. In fact, thanks in large part to advances in research over the last decades, children battling cancer have a 75-80% survival rate.

A heightened public awareness of signs and symptoms result in children being accurately diagnosed earlier. As you know, the earlier cancer is identified, the better the outcome. When you add in the available treatment options, itís clear how the number of deaths from childhood cancer is decreasing and why most children and teenagers who are diagnosed with cancer can be treated successfully.

That is, unless you are a child living in a developing country.

Now suppose you live in a village in Paraguay. Your daughter has been sick. You donít know why ó there are any number of reasons for her fever that wonít go away. Finally, you save up enough money to take her to the city so she can be seen by a specialist. The last thing you expect to hear is, your daughter has cancer. But thatís exactly what youíre told. And then youíre told to go home, because after all, you are a poor farmer and you have no way to pay for her treatment.

This is the reality for too many people living in developing countries. Sometimes, they canít afford to start treatment, so they are left with no choice and no hope. Other times, children are able to start treatment but are forced to stop when their familyís life savings are gone.

In developing countries, kids with cancer have just a 20% survival rate. If they lived in the U.S., they would have a 75-80% survival rate.†They’re the same kids, with the same cancer. They could have the same chance.

But because of where they live, these kids have almost no chance for a cure. Hospitals may not have access to the life-saving medicines, technology or knowledge. And even if they do, the medicine and treatment is almost always too expensive for the average family to afford.

These children experience unimaginable suffering with little chance for even pain relief. There are treatments for these children. They desperately need access to the live-saving medicine. Treatments for leukemia and brain tumors, two of the most common types of childhood cancer, are desperately needed in the developing world, where more than 80% of children donít even have a chance in the fight against cancer.

Sign this pledge to help the National Cancer Coalition bring relief to children in developing countries fighting cancer. With your help, they can help cancer patients commute to receive treatment, ship medicine to clinics around the world, and more.

The National Cancer Coalition works tirelessly to give hope for healing and relief from suffering to people in developing countries who are facing cancer. With help from donors, NCC connects life-saving medicines to the people who desperately need them. Read more about NCCís work here.

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Photo credit: National Cancer Coalition


Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad5 years ago

No child or adult should die for a lack of medical availability!

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you Kayla, for Sharing this!

Carlos B.
Carlos Bagram5 years ago

@Dieter R.- Thanks for voicing up and not even addressing my suggestion. Love the fact that we have a New Zealand counter-part here, welcome to the discussion (Worked with the Kiwi Army in Afghanistan, great soldiers to work with). And let me say they told me about Healthcare in New Zealand, which is a wonderful example as to how Public healthcare evolves. Let me quote this as Kiwi soldiers have told me, The healthcare system of New Zealand has undergone significant changes throughout the past several decades. From an essentially fully public system in the early 20th century, reforms have introduced market and health insurance elements primarily in the last three decades, creating a mixed public-private system for delivering healthcare. So in effect, Universal healthcare is unsustainable in the long run, considering New Zealand has a small population compared to other 1st world countries. By the way I am a fan of briarwood, kohlandcochineal handbags! Mate send me an e-mail, we need to talk business!

Dieter Riedel
Dieter R5 years ago

Carlos B. the American competitive system has to many loosers go figure: obesity, heart disease, cancer, homeless people, stress related diseases, ... yes congratulations you are in the top ten compared to other 1st world countries.

And even with all the billions there is not much off in improvement on the cancer problem, simply because it is a business and only sick people create money for the Pharma-Industry. I do not trust any profit driven science ( There are dozens of cost effective alternatives, go figure:

Health starts with healthy food...

Carlos B.
Carlos Bagram5 years ago

America has set the standard for a competitive market. Competition brings down prices or raises quality and has been proven to work over and over again. So why didn’t the President follow the molds set already for competition? What am I talking about? Simple, what stops the President from starting a public healthcare insurance with regulated prices (Not to be run by tax funding)? You want everyone to bring their prices down then you set the new standard by undercutting everyone. You give the same quality of health insurance service at a lower rate where average American families can save thousands each year. Why did he not do that? If you are going to come out and say, “It is not that simple and sounds dumb.”, then you probably don’t realize it would be easier, much more accepted and more cost effective than going the route that can be questioned as unconstitutional. America is based on competition and an open market, not on socialist mandating.

Carlos B.
Carlos Bagram5 years ago

#1- For as much as many complain about the US healthcare system, it is in the top 10 healthcare for treating Cancer in the world, not even Canada, UK or Australia is in the top 10 for cancer treatment, #1 on that list would be Qatar by the way and they have a private healthcare system, go figure.
#2- For those of you who constantly support Mandatory healthcare or Universal Healthcare, did any of you stop and think maybe, just maybe that is not the way we in the US do business? Look I understand clearly what President Obama wanted to do, since he could not implement a single-payer system he goes the mandatory route because he thinks it will help everyone, NOT THE CASE! Can I ask everyone else here a logical question for everyone to consider without getting blasted for actually thinking outside the box for a minute?

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson5 years ago


Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

This is so sad. We need to help them. So much money goes into donations, why can't there be more for cancer victims in developing countries?

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thank you do much for sharing this!

Aurea Walker

It is truly sad so many children die from cancer and the parents too poor to pay for their treatment. But of course big pharma would never donate or give at cost the medicines to help. With them it is ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY HONEY! in many cases the cancer increases in third world countries is because of the American fucorporations destroying or dumping of carcinogenic waste.