FRANKFORT -- A new study released by the Kentucky Cancer Registry shows that rates of brain and central nervous system tumors diagnosed in Kentucky children significantly outpace the national average. The report was released this week during the joint Children's Advocacy Day and Childhood Cancer Awareness Day at the state Capitol.
"The conclusions of this study make clear that childhood cancer should be a priority issue for all Kentuckians," said Jamie Bloyd, director of Government Relations and External Affairs for the American Childhood Cancer Organization, president of the Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund, and mother of a childhood cancer survivor. "Last year, our state legislature allocated $5 million in state budget funding to enhance research into childhood cancer. This research is critical to improving our understanding of this new state data and to improving available treatment options for young patients."
Several key findings of the new Kentucky Cancer Registry study include:
• Over the next four years, approximately 1,000 Kentucky kids will be diagnosed with cancer.
• The number of diagnoses is on the rise. Incidence rates in Kentucky are increasing by almost 2 percent every year (which will result in a 20 percent increase over 10 years). This rise is consistent with trends in the U.S., but the cause is not well understood.
• Kentucky has the sixth highest rate of brain and CNS (central nervous system) tumors in the country. Brain and CNS tumors are the leading cause of childhood death from disease.
• Within the state, the highest rates occur in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky. In a 40-county area in Kentucky, there's an 87 percent higher incidence of pediatric brain tumors than what would be expected in the rest of the state and country
• Nearly 20 percent of Kentucky children fighting cancer are not treated at the state's two Children's Oncology Group (COG) facilities, which likely impacts their treatment options and outcomes.
"As one of the only states currently specifically funding childhood cancer research, Kentucky is a leader in the fight to keep our kids healthy," Bloyd continued. "In the years ahead, we need to maintain our commitment to the groundbreaking research now underway at the Kentucky's COG facilities at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville. Our goal is to find less toxic treatments and, ultimately, cures for childhood cancer right here in Kentucky."