Lab Canada

First-ever study examines childhood and adolescent cancer research trends in Canada

Toronto, ON – The first-ever detailed examination of a country’s investment in research on childhood and adolescent cancers was released today by the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership). The study identified the research focused on childhood and adolescent cancers from among 7,203 peer-reviewed cancer research projects funded by governmental and voluntary sector (non-profit, non-government) organizations between 2005 and 2007, and categorized the funding by research areas and types of cancer.

“Cancers affecting children and adolescents are different from the ones found in adults. Research on how these cancers begin and what causes them within this population is key to advancing our understanding of how to prevent or stop the disease in young people,” explains Dr Paul Grundy, chair of C17, which represents all the Canadian childhood cancer and blood disorder centres, director of pediatric hematology oncology and palliative care at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, and advisor on this report.

For the period studied, research funding focused on understanding the causes of childhood and adolescent cancer, and was proportionately double that observed for cancer overall. Research funding in childhood and adolescent cancer was also proportionately higher in areas focused on patient care and survivorship, and the biology of cancer, particularly how genes help turn normal cells into cancer cells. There was no research funding in cancer prevention interventions directed at children and adolescents, which may reflect that relatively little is known about the causes of cancer in this age group.

From 2005 to 2007, a total of $38.1 million was provided for research on childhood and adolescent cancers. This translated into $1 of every $30 provided in peer-reviewed cancer research funded by governmental and voluntary sector organizations during the period. The annual funding rose from $12.4 million in 2005 to $13.2 million in 2007, representing a 6.5% increase. For the same period, the annual research funding for all cancers increased by 10.5% from $364.3 million in 2005 to $402.4 million in 2007.

“Investment in Research on Childhood and Adolescent Cancers, 2005-2007” is a special section of “Cancer Research Investment in Canada, 2007”, an annual survey produced by the CCRA, an alliance of cancer research funding organizations and affiliated partners working together to enhance the overall state of cancer research funding in Canada through improved communication, cooperation and coordination.

“The information provided by the survey is very valuable to the research community and has helped to facilitate coordination and planning across organizations,” says Dr Elizabeth Eisenhauer, co-chair of the CCRA and research action group chair at the Partnership. “This report reveals specific insights into investment in childhood/adolescent cancer research, one important part of the research continuum. Within the next couple of years, we will release reports focused on the investment in other key research areas, such as prevention and survivorship.”