Shine Gold on Our Young Heroes & Survivors: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some of the most common questions along with the answers.  This FAQ will be updated regularly.

If you have any additional query, please send an email to  and we will answer your question and update this FAQ.


Childhood cancer awareness

Are there specific dates for raising awareness about childhood cancer?

Two key milestones every year are dedicated to raising awareness about childhood cancer:  

  • 15 February: International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD)
  • September: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

SIOPE marks 15th February each year to raise awareness on the challenges faced by children and adolescents with cancer in Europe. The International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD) Event is hosted every year at the European Parliament.


Why is September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?

September is a time to recognise the children and adolescents affected by cancer at global and European scale.  During September, we honour the children and young people battling cancer, the families who care for them, the healthcare professionals and their caregivers, the survivors, the children who lost their lives, and the scientists dedicated to beating childhood cancer.

Since the challenges are enormous, the entire community works together to emphasise and support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September.  This year, SIOP Europe, CCI Europe and PanCare are joining forces to raise awareness about childhood cancer.


What does the gold ribbon symbolise?

Gold is a precious material and since children are our most precious treasures, it is a perfect image highlighting the importance of beating childhood cancer.  The gold ribbon represents all types of cancer affecting children and adolescents: it is the universal symbol to create awareness about childhood cancer and mobilise increased attention. 

Most people know that the pink ribbon symbolises breast cancer but unfortunately there isn’t much awareness the gold ribbon. This is unfortunate and shows much should be done to bring awareness about childhood cancer. 


What is the community doing to raise awareness about childhood cancer?

Every September, members of the entire community give their support, add their voice to the campaign and engage in the discussions to bring visibility to the challenges of childhood cancer.  All social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) buzz with discussions and engagements to raise awareness.   

The hashtags to take part in these discussions: #ChildhoodCancerAwarenessMonth #ShineGold #SIOPEurope   


What can you do?

Everyone can make a difference by supporting the activities of the childhood cancer community.  You too can give your support, add your voice to the campaign and engage. 

Concrete actions you can take:


Why is the European Parliament in Brussels lighting up in gold on 1-6 September 2020?

The European Parliament in Brussels will be lighting up in gold (1-6 September) for the first time to bring unprecedented visibility to the persistent burden of childhood cancer. This is an important signal that the youngest citizens will not be left behind.

We extend our deep gratitude to Honourable Vice-President of the European Parliament, Ewa Kopacz, for championing the European Parliament endorsement of the “Shine Gold” Campaign


Facts & figures

How many children and young people are dying every from childhood cancer?

It is a shocking reality that cancer remains Europe’s leading cause of death by disease in children aged over one.  Every 15 minutes in Europe, parents receive the devastating news that their child has cancer. Over 6,000 children and young people are dying from childhood cancer every year in Europe. This compares to as many as 200 school buses.


How many new cases of childhood cancer do we have every year in Europe?

There are 35,000 new cases of childhood cancer in Europe each year. To put this figure in perspective, it amounts to a football stadium at full capacity.


How many long-term survivors in Europe?

There are almost 500,000 long-term survivors of childhood cancer in Europe today.  This compares to the population of Antwerp (Belgium), Lyon (France), Lisbon (Portugal).


How much public funding is allocated to childhood cancer research?

Another sad fact is that 10 times less public funding is allocated to childhood cancer research in Europe than in the US (7.1% EU vs 77.7% US). Europe should strengthen its position as a leader in childhood cancer research globally. More funding is urgently needed for childhood cancer research.


Are there differences of survival of children with cancer in Europe?

Unfortunately, there has been little progress in survival for difficult-to-treat childhood cancers and too many young lives are still lost to the disease.


Childhood cancer types and causes

How common is childhood cancer?

Despite improving survival rates, cancer is still the first cause of death by disease beyond one year of age in the EU.


What are the most common types of childhood cancer?

Cancers in children differ from cancers in adults. The most frequent childhood cancers are leukaemias, tumours of the central nervous system (CNS), lymphomas and neuroblastomas. They occur from birth to adolescence, with 35% of the typical childhood cancers occurring before the age of five years.


What is the survival rate of children with cancer?

Thanks to the currently available multidisciplinary treatments, 80% are disease-free after 5 years from diagnosis. There are approximately 500,000 EU citizens surviving a childhood cancer.


What causes childhood cancer?

“Why does my child have cancer?” is a crucial question for parents, which most of the time receives no answer. Relatively few causative factors have been identified so far for childhood cancers. It is estimated that 4-8% of paediatric cancers occur within a known genetic predisposition and more than 100 genetic syndromes with a risk of cancer in childhood are known. The proportion may increase as more and more rare cancer gene mutations are discovered through ongoing analyses in areas such as genomics. Some studies already suggest that up to one in four children and adolescents with a history of cancer may have a genetic predisposition condition. 


Childhood cancer treatment

How is cancer treatment in children and adolescents different than cancer treatment in adults?

Cancers in children differ from cancers in adults. The most frequent childhood cancers are leukaemias, tumours of the central nervous system (CNS), lymphomas and neuroblastomas. They occur from birth to adolescence, with 35% of the typical childhood cancers occurring before the age of five years.


Can children live a “normal life” after treatment?

Considering epidemiology and outcomes, there are three main groups of paediatric cancers:

  • Those with a good prognosis (with a higher than 85% chance of survival after five  years) under current standard multidisciplinary treatments, using cytotoxic drugs in often an intensive mode (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, lymphomas, retinoblastoma and renal tumours). Over the last five years, the survival rates have plateaued for patients suffering from these malignancies, while treatment intensity has been reduced for some patients in order to decrease the risk of long-term sequelae;
  • Those with a poor prognosis (~50% or less 5-year survival) such as acute myeloid leukaemia, several CNS tumours, neuroblastoma, bone and soft tissue sarcomas. Among these diseases, some have a very poor prognosis such as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, high-risk neuroblastoma and metastatic sarcomas;
  • The extremely rare tumours, for which there is insufficient information on their real incidence and survival.


Do children have better survival rates than adults with cancer?

Childhood cancer survival has plateaued over the last five years or more for difficult-to-treat diseases, which calls for innovative treatments with new mechanisms of action to control resilient and resistant diseases.


What about teenagers and young adults with cancer? 

Teenagers and Young Adults (TYA) aged 15 to 24 years have very specific needs which are not equally addressed across Europe and there are still differences in their 5 years survival when compared to younger children with the same malignancy.


Is there unequal access to standard care and research across Europe?

Five-year survival is generally 10 to 20% lower in Eastern Europe, a disparity that becomes even larger for cancers which already have poor outcomes. There are already standards of care for paediatric oncology treatment centres but these are not applied equally across Europe.


SIOP Europe: “who” and “what”?

SIOP Europe: Who?

The European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP Europe or SIOPE) is the only pan-European organisation representing all professionals working in the field of childhood cancers. With more than 2000 members across 36 European countries, SIOPE is leading the way to ensure the best possible care and outcomes for all children and adolescents with cancer in Europe.

SIOP Europe (representing paediatric cancer healthcare professionals and academia) is dedicated to improving the treatment of children and adolescents with cancer. 


SIOP Europe: What?

Paediatric cancer remains a major public health and societal issue in Europe. While improvements have been achieved for some childhood cancers over the past years, there has been little progress in patient survival for difficult-to-treat paediatric malignancies, and too many young lives are still lost to the disease.

Backed by the extensive endorsement of the European paediatric haematology-oncology community, the SIOPE Strategic Plan, 'A European Cancer Plan for Children and Adolescents' was developed to increase the cure rate and the quality of long term survival of children and young people with cancer by 2025.