One of the main limitations in
advancing our understanding of childhood cancer is our limited knowledge of its
causes. The differences in the incidence of cancer among children around the
globe are very intriguing; it is possible that the interaction of environment,
genetics, socioeconomic conditions, and ethnic factors influence the occurrence
of cancer in some areas. In this regard, research on the epidemiology of
childhood cancer in Central America can open the door to the study of potential
causes. Cancer information in Central America is scarce (there is only
one population-based cancer registry in Costa Rica). In addition, there are few researchers in
Central America with expertise in childhood cancer epidemiology. Through
the St. Baldrick’s International Scholar Award, the GHI has been working with
Dr. Soad Fuentes and her team in El Salvador to establish the first national population-based pediatric cancer registry
in El Salvador and create a childhood cancer epidemiology consortium in Central
cancer registries: Population-based cancer
registries serve principally two purposes. The primary purpose is to provide
the data for planning and evaluation of cancer control and treatment. Cancer
registration allows health policy-makers to assess and address inequalities in
prevention, access and care within and between countries according to factors
such as ethnicity, occupation, socioeconomic status. Cancer registration is
also used to assess the impact of interventions designed to promote early
diagnosis, such as screening or provider education. The second purpose of
cancer registration is to serve as the basis for epidemiological studies. For
instance, using the limited data currently available, variations in incidence
of pediatric cancer appear to be quite significant if one examines incidence
rates in low- and middle-income countries versus high-income countries.
The development of a population-based cancer registry is a critical step in the
evolution of pediatric cancer care and evaluation in Central America and will directly
inform the allocation of health resources and advance clinical,
epidemiological, and health services research.
Learn more: Read the Dana-Farber Insight blog post – Salvadoran Doctor Sets Sights on Changing Pediatric Oncology in Her Country
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