Public Poll Says Most Research Should Focus On Childhood Cancer
September 23, 2013

Public Poll Says Most Research Should Focus On Childhood Cancer

[ Watch the Video: Childhood Cancer Should Be Top Childhood Research Priority ]

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

According to a new poll by the University of Michigan on Children's Health, childhood cancer should be a top priority for children's health researchers.

The new poll found that 76 percent of adults rated research into childhood cancers as "very important," which was followed by diabetes at 70 percent. Birth defects and other genetic problems received a respectable 68 percent in the poll.

“So many people know a child or family touched by childhood cancer,” Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, said in a statement. “It remains a leading killer of children under 18 in the United States. The public clearly ranks research into cures and treatments for these often deadly cancers as a top priority.”

The cure rate for childhood cancer has increased from less than 40 percent to nearly 70 percent over the last several decades. However, each year more than 13,000 parents learn their child has cancer and one out of five diagnosed children die from the disease.

“The results of this poll seem to indicate our research community is in tune with what the public sees as a top priority. But in a national research funding climate that is under pressure, this measurement of the public’s priorities can help government agencies and others set strategies for the best use of research funding,” says Davis, who also is professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

According to the poll, parents with at least one child in the house under 18-years-old rated childhood cancers first on the list of research priority, but they ranked safety of vaccine and safety of medication higher than the overall group.

The results also varied for adults from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. African-Americans rated diabetes the highest child health research priority, with 87 percent rating it "very important." They also rated sickle cell anemia and blood diseases higher than the overall group. Hispanic parents rated childhood cancer first, but causes of infant death came in second, ahead of diabetes.

“This poll provides guidance for the research road ahead and the path to healthier lives for children and adults,” Davis said. “This information can be an important tool in determin [sic] research strategies, because the investments made today in the lab will make the difference in the lives of children tomorrow.”