There is a significant threat to pediatric cancer research stemming from COVID-19’s impact on philanthropy. That message is shared by MSK’s Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Andrew Kung, MD, PhD, in a recent op-ed published in U.S. News & World Report.
Dr. Kung points out that today-approximately 84 percent of children with cancer are cured, compared to around 58 percent in the 1970s. This improvement is a direct result of a continual investment in research. While federal support for these efforts is fairly low to begin with, roughly four percent of the total National Cancer Institute (NCI) budget is allocated to childhood cancer research – meaning pediatric cancer programs rely heavily on philanthropy for financial support. As COVID-19 has impacted funding sources including philanthropy, Dr. Kung points out that programs that support important work and research face a substantial reduction in financial support and may have ripple effects long after the COVID-19 pandemic. He also encourages parents to continue to take their children for scheduled vaccinations and routine healthcare visits.
Dr. Kung leads MSK Kids, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s pediatric cancer program, which is the largest pediatric cancer program in the United States. At MSK Kids, our world-renowned pediatric physicians and researchers combine their deep expertise with the latest approaches to develop the best care plans for MSK’s littlest patients. Additionally, the team at MSK Kids have pioneered several breakthrough treatments which have become practice changing in the field of pediatric oncology.
While COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life, Dr. Kung is hopeful that it won’t affect the commitment of those helping in the fight against pediatric cancer.
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