Today in Australia, more than 1000 children are on anticancer therapy or in the early stages of follow-up. One of the biggest problems with the treatments these children are receiving is their toxicity. The most successful treatments have high toxicity, making them difficult to tolerate and creating the need for a high level of expensive supportive care.
Toxic treatments can also lead to ongoing problems for survivors. Recent studies indicate that, of the more than 10,000 adult survivors of child cancer in Australia today, one third will experience a major health problem in adulthood, such as second cancer, infertility, cardiomyopathy or poor mental health.
Additional issues are the travel and extended stays in city centres required for rural children and their families during therapy, and the fact that some families feel the need to travel overseas to search for experimental therapies following the relapse of their child.