Childhood Cancer


cause of death by childhood disease in Brazil


new cases per year in the country


of deaths occur in low and middle-income countries


chances of cure in developed countries.

Cancer is the name given to a set of more than 100 diseases, which share the disordered growth of cells that reach tissues and organs, and can affect other parts of the body. Considered a public health problem in the world, it requires high-cost and long-term treatments. Early and accurate diagnosis and rapid access to quality treatment increase the chances of cure, and bring hope to thousands of families.

In the case of childhood cancer (1 to 19 years), the challenge is even more critical: there is no evidence of effective prevention measures, cases are rarer and, in general, more aggressive. However, unlike the disease in adults, the chances of cure are high. With early diagnosis and rapid access to quality treatment, this rate can reach up to 80% in developed countries.

DATASUS. Sistema de Informações sobre Mortalidade (SIM), 2009-2015.
INCA. Estimativa 2018: incidência de câncer no Brasil.
Rodriguez-Galindo et al. Curr Opin Pediatr. n.25, v.1, p.3-15, 2013.
Denburg et al. Journal of Cancer Policy, n.12, p.7-15, 2017.

To increase the disease’s chances of cure, Desiderata begins its activities in 2003, motivated by the urgency to contribute to the improvement of public policies aimed at childhood cancer. To this end, it aligns its actions with Strategic Action Plan for facing the CNCDs in Brazil 2011-2022; Ordinance nº 483 about the Healthcare Network for People with Chronic Diseases; National Policy for Cancer Prevention and Control; the State Plan for Oncological Attention in Rio de Janeiro and organizes its actions on three fronts:

Early Diagnosis

Early diagnosis is critical to increasing childhood cancer’s chances of cure. In addition to allowing for a less invasive treatment, it reduces suffering for the patient and their family.

However, diagnosing cancer in this segment of the population is a great challenge, since the signs and symptoms of the disease are not precise and can be confused with those of other diseases that are common in this age group.

This is why it is necessary to train health professionals to identify the disease and promote a rapid referral to a specialized hospital.


Due to the complexity of childhood cancer,  the treatment must be differentiated, and this has already been determined by the Ministry of Health. To this end, it is important for a specialized team to be responsible for the medical follow-up, there must be access to medication and examinations within the recommended time, a welcoming and playful environment, pediatric palliative care, and the provision of other specific care for this age group, such as hospital classrooms and playrooms.


Cancer registries provide information on the incidence of the disease, as well as monitoring the quality of care in specialized hospitals. It is important to stimulate the implementation and qualification of the records for access to information that will support the decision-making and planning of public policies in Rio de Janeiro.

Even though it is at the top of childhood mortality, cancer in children and adolescents is not a priority for public healthcare managers. Therefore, in addition to the fronts mentioned above, the implementation of actions that address the issue is important so that public policies on cancer or child health can be elaborated, such as: access to medication, adoption of treatment standards, access to hospital beds, consultations, and new technologies.

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