Survival of childhood cancer has enormously improved in the developed world with current 5-year survival for leukemia and lymphoma now around 80% and 90% respectively. An interesting recent paper shows that for the period 2001-2005 the 5-year survival of children with these cancers in Philippines is much lower (32.9% for leukemias and 47.7% for lymphomas) (Redaniel et al, Br J Cancer, 2010). These figures are even less than the survival seen in USA during 1976-1980 (57.7% for leukemias and 60.9% for lymphomas). These observations although not unexpected, do highlight the enormous gap in the outlook of children with cancer in the developing world.
What about India? There is limited population-based childhood cancer survival data. The most recent data from Madras Metropolitan Tumour Registry shows that for the period 1990-2001 the 5-year survival of children with leukemias in Chennai was 36.3% and lymphomas was 55.3% respectively (Swaminathan et al, Int J Cancer, June 2008). In this study, a combination of completeness of treatment and type of hospital emerged as significant prognostic factors for survival.