International Childhood Cancer Day is marked on 15 February at the Initiative of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the former International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organisations (ICCCPO).
Croatian Parliament has established marking of the National Childhood Cancer Day in 2006.
According to most recent data from the Croatian Cancer Registry, 123 children (62 girls) aged 0-14 years and 175 children (90 girls) aged 0-19 years in Croatia have been diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
According to latest Croatian data on deceased persons, 21 children (11 girls) aged 0-14 years and 31 children (15 girls) aged 0-19 years, respectively, died from malignant diseases in 2015.
Over the past 10 years, an average of 112 children have been diagnosed with malignant diseases per year; 167 children aged 0-14 years were affected by malignant diseases and 21 children died, and 35 children aged 0-19 years died from malignant diseases.
Success of malignant disease treatment is measured by a five-year survival rate. Recently published data from a large European observation study have shown that five-year survival from malignant diseases in Croatian children is comparable to that in other European countries – 85% for acute lymphatic leukemia and slightly above 80% for a total of other childhood malignancies.
According to Cancer Registry data, a majority of children diagnosed with malignant diseases (0-19 years) in 2014 were from the City of Zagreb (49; 33 aged 0-14), followed by children from the Split-Dalmatia county (16; 9 aged 0-14) and from Osijek-Baranja (11; 6 aged 0-14), Brod-Posavina (11; 9 aged 0-14), Zadar (10; 7 aged 0-14) and Primorje-Gorski kotar counties (10; 7 aged 0-14).
On the national level, among the total of 175 children with newly diagnosed malignant disease in 2014, 63 were 0-4 years old, 28 had 5-9 years, 32 had 10-14 years, and 52 had 15-19 years of age.
The most frequent diagnoses of malignant diseases in children (0-19) were leukemia (41; 35 aged 0-14), malignant brain and bone marrow tumors (27; 22 aged 0-14)) and lymphoma (23; 12 aged 0-14 yrs).
Malignant diseases in childhood involve social and medical consequences, as they cause trauma and difficulties in efforts to adapt to a new situation, affecting a child’s family as its primary support in terms of love and care. It is of utmost importance to ensure help to parents who face daily obstacles in caring for their child. Health care, contemporary treatment measures and timelsy psychological support should be equally available to all.
This is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the fact that quality care for children with malignant diseases is one of the priorities of the Croatian society. To recognize the problems and needs of children with malignancies and their families is an essential step in planning and improving the quality of health care, and necessary to raise public awareness about children and their families coping with malignant diseases.
Croatian members of CCI: