The devastating impact of childhood brain cancer will now be recognised every September as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with the announcement today made by Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, of an annual Childhood Brain Cancer Awareness Day.
In 2019, around 100 children aged 0-14 years will be diagnosed with brain cancer. It is estimated that childhood brain cancer will be the second most common cancer diagnosed in Australian children (after leukaemia). Thirty-six children will die from brain cancer in 2019.
The inaugural Childhood Brain Cancer Awareness Day will be held on Thursday 26 September 2019 with the aim to raise public awareness of the impact of childhood brain cancer on patients, family and carers and to highlight the importance of childhood brain cancer research.
Each year the event will focus on one strain of brain cancer with this year’s being Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), known as the most aggressive of all childhood cancers.
"DIPG is deadly, less than 10 per cent of children are alive two years after diagnosis,” said Minister Hunt.
“Due to the tumour’s location within the brainstem, they cannot be removed surgically, they do not respond to chemotherapy, and radiotherapy is palliative only. Our goal is to significantly improve the options and treatment available to these children by investing in childhood brain cancer research projects.”
The Kids’ Cancer Project, an independent national charity, is leading this initiative with Cancer Australia in bringing like-minded organisations together such as RUN DIPG, and is urging Australians to donate to child specific brain cancer projects.
Owen Finegan, The Kids’ Cancer Project CEO, said he is driven to working collaboratively with key childhood and brain cancer groups, non-government organisations and charities to increase research funding and improve outcomes for childhood brain cancer.
"A child diagnosed with DIPG today faces the same prognosis as a child diagnosed 40 years ago," he said. “This is simply not good enough."
“Science is the solution and I urge every Australian to donate to children’s brain cancer research, specifically projects focussed on finding solutions for children diagnosed with DIPG.”
Dr Matt Dun, a University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) biologist, has spent over a decade researching vital insights into some of the most devastating types of cancer, including children's cancers.
Two years ago, Dr Dun's pursuit became excruciatingly personal when his daughter, Josephine "Josie" who is now four, was diagnosed with brain stem cancer, DIPG. Dr Dun’s research is now focused on developing better treatments for children with DIPG.
Read more: Josie's story.
RUN DIPG is a charitable organisation set up by Dr Dun and his family who have teamed up with The Kids’ Cancer Project and Cancer Australia to encourage all Australian’s to donate to children’s brain cancer research. Other collaborating organisations include Robert Connor Dawes Foundation, Children’s Cancer Institute, Children’s Hospital Foundation, Isabella and Marcus Foundation, Children’s Cancer Foundation, Love for Lachie and Brain Child Foundation.
The Kids’ Cancer Project is currently funding three DIPG research projects. To earn more about the projects and how you can help visit Childhood Brain Cancer Awareness Day.