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Childhood Cancer Facts


Helena & Henry (Mississauga)

Did you know...?
  • Despite huge advances in research, cancer is still the number one disease killing Canadian children today; 1 in 5 Canadian children diagnosed with cancer do not survive (source: Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation)

  • Unlike adult cancers, the causes of most childhood cancers are still unknown and are not related to lifestyle and environmental risk factors

  • The incidence of childhood cancer is highest in the first five years of life

  • Each year, about 1,700 new cases of childhood cancer are diagnosed in Canada (source: Kids Cancer Care Alberta)

  • Of that number, approximately 400 are in Ontario (source: Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario Networked Information System (POGONIS))

  • High risk cancers, including those of the central nervous system, certain leukemias, neuroblastomas and bone cancers still have relatively low survival rates, between 7%-31% (source: Kids Cancer Care Alberta)

  • Sadly, childhood cancer claims over 150 young lives each year; those who survive often require ongoing psychosocial, physical, and financial support (source: The Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database)

  • While over 80% of children survive cancer, more than 60% of survivors face late effects of their disease and treatment, including neurocognitive impairments, sterility, and secondary cancers (source: National Cancer Institute)

  • There are an estimated 30,000 survivors of childhood cancer living in Canada today, most of whom live with life-long health problems related to the cancer treatments they received as a child (source: Kids Cancer Care Alberta)

  • By the time they turn 45, more than 95% of childhood cancer survivors will have a chronic health problem and 80% will have severe or life-threatening conditions (source: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)

  • Given the life-years lost, childhood cancer is drastically underfunded, accounting for only 7% of all cancer research funding in Canada (source: Canadian Cancer Research Alliance)

  • Although cancer research in general has made huge strides in our lifetime, very few new drugs for children with cancer have been developed in the last 30 years; the weakest link in children’s cancer research is pediatric drug discovery

  • In the past 35 years, only 7 drugs have been approved by Health Canada for the treatment of childhood cancers and most of the drugs given to cancer kids in Canada are used off-label (source: Helena's Hope)

  • About one-quarter of families of children being treated for cancer lost more than 40 percent of their total household income, while one-third experienced housing, energy or food insecurity within 6 months of diagnosis (source: Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center)

  • Families of children with cancer incur an average of more than $28,000 in costs in the first three months following a child's diagnosis (source: Canadian Cancer Action Network)

  • Over 80% of families' total cost of illness was associated with family members (especially mothers) forgoing their employment and other unpaid activities to provide care; over 50% of mothers reported relinquishing their employment (source: Tsimicalis et al.)

  • Caregivers typically lose 23% of their workable hours; parents with children who have cancer face higher loss of income and out-of-pocket costs – in part because parents must accompany the child to hospital or appointments (source: Canadian Cancer Action Network)

  • A child with cancer needs the help of five blood donors to support their care. A child with leukemia needs the support of eight blood donors a week. Every donation can make a lifesaving impact on a child cancer patient (source: Canadian Blood Services)













Here are some ways that you can help raise awareness:

  • Wear a gold ribbon (the international symbol of childhood cancer awareness) and start a conversation. OPACC has gold ribbon pins for sale on our Shop.

  • Share the facts on this page about childhood cancer.

  • Encourage local landmarks to light up in gold and local municipalities to do flag raisings and proclamations to acknowledge Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. If you know of any happening in your community, please share with us! For more information on how to get one done in your municipality, please see section below.

  • If you have been personally affected by childhood cancer, consider sharing your story. OPACC has many family stories on our Faces of OPACC page  and we would be honoured to include yours there as well.

  • Contact local media to help spread the word about childhood cancer awareness; it's always especially impactful if your family has been affected and you are willing to publicly share your story so your community can learn about the impact on a local family.

  • Volunteer your time, organize a fundraiser, or make a donation to help a childhood cancer organization. If that organization is OPACC, thank you! You can learn more about how to help us at

  • Share our posts on your social media.

Flag Raisings:


How to arrange a childhood cancer flag raising (thanks to childhood cancer advocate/bereaved mom Patti Bauer for providing this information and the photo above):


Requesting a flag raising:

  • All Municipalities have a “Contact us” on their websites and most have a flag raising requisition on their sites.

  • The Clerk’s department is the one to contact when in doubt or the websites are not clear. 

  • You can request that the Municipality does a Proclamation for the month of September proclaiming September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.


At the flag raising:


  • Make the flag raising personal by bringing pictures, inviting community members who have also been touched by childhood cancer and “planting” ribbons or memorials of those children touched by this disease.

  • The person who would like to raise the flag can also check to see if their Municipality will allow fundraising items to be sold or donations to be collected.

If you would like more guidance arranging a flag raising in your municipality, please contact us and we'll put you in touch with Patti, who is happy to help with advice, with the wording of the Proclamations, as well as the email requesting a flag raising.

Could You Imagine...?

Could You Imagine is our annual social media campaign -- begun in 2021 in collaboration with Al Truistic's Beer Bread Bakery (owned by an OPACC parent) -- to raise childhood cancer awareness every International Childhood Cancer Day (February 15th). These brutally honest -- and often heartbreaking -- quotes are submitted by real OPACC parents to help raise awareness of the stark reality of childhood cancer and how it has impacted their family.


CN Tower lit up in honour of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (2023)

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