ON CHILD CANCER IN RUSSIA

Every year in Russia about 5000 children and adolescents under 18 are diagnosed with cancer and serious blood diseases. Approximately 3000 kids diagnosed are under 14.

On average one in every 600 children and adolescents will have cancer or a serious blood disease before reaching 18.

Leukaemia is the most common type of childhood cancer. The peak incidence of childhood leukaemia (specifically, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia) is mostly observed in children aged between two and six.

Survival rates 

Childhood cancer survival rate in western countries with most advanced medicine is about 80%. Russia’s survival rate has just recently risen from 50% to 70%.

Unfortunately, treatment of childhood cancers in Russia often starts too late. About 20 years ago Russian doctors cured up to 5% children diagnosed with leukaemia, the most curable childhood cancer. A breakthrough occurred when Russian physicians started training in the West and gained experience from their foreign colleagues.

Erwinase

About 10% of Russian children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia need Erwinase, a drug not registered in Russia. One pack of Erwinase costs £3000. According to physicians’ estimate, Russian paediatric haematology departments annually need about 240 packs of Erwinase. The Russian state budget does not fund the purchase, that is why Podari Zhizn and Gift of Life gathers money to buy the medication.

Bone marrow transplant 

Approximately 20% of children may need bone marrow transplantation. Up until recently narrow donors among relatives. That means that unrelated donors are sought in international registries – the search costs around £4500.

Graft harvesting – taking bone marrow cells from a donor – costs between £9000 and £12,000. This covers donor’s journey to hospital and accommodation, doctor’s fee, paid leave for the donor, and medical insurance. The donor does not get any financial reward for this selfless help.

The search for unrelated donors in international registries and graft harvesting outside Russia are not covered by the Russian state. Either the patient’s family or, in most cases, charity organisations must raise the necessary sum.

At the moment about 200 bone marrow transplants from unrelated donors are performed in Russia annually, while the number needed amounts to a thousand. When a transplant is recommended, it usually is patient’s main or only chance to survive.