Cancer in Children
Although cancer is a leading cause of death among children in the United States, childhood cancer deaths are declining.
In the United States, cancer is the second most common cause of death among children between the ages of 1 and 14 years, surpassed only by accidents.1 More than 16 out of every 100,000 children and teens in the U.S. were diagnosed with cancer, and nearly 3 of every 100,000 died from the disease.2 The most common cancers in children were leukemia (cancer of the bone marrow and blood) and brain and central nervous system cancers.2
In 2005,* 4.1 of every 100,000 young people under 20 years of age in the U.S. were diagnosed with leukemia, and 0.8 per 100,000 died from it. The number of new cases was highest among the 1–4 age group, but the number of deaths was highest among the 10–14 age group.
Brain and Central Nervous System Cancers2
In 2005,* 2.9 of every 100,000 people 0–19 years of age were found to have cancer of the brain or central nervous system, and 0.7 per 100,000 died from it. These cancers were found most often in children between 1 and 4 years of age, but the most deaths occurred among those aged 5–9.
Childhood Cancer Deaths Are Declining3
During the past 25 years, there have been significant improvements in the five-year relative survival rate for all of the major childhood cancers. The five-year relative survival rate among children for all cancer sites combined improved from 58% for patients diagnosed in 1975–1977 to 80% for those diagnosed in 1996–2004.1
A CDC study found that from 1990 to 2004, childhood leukemia death rates fell by 3.0% per year, childhood brain and other nervous system cancers by 1.0% per year, and all other childhood cancers combined by 1.3% per year, likely reflecting better treatment of childhood cancers.
*2005 is the most recent year for which statistics are available.
1Jemal A, Siegel R, Ward E, Hao Y, Xu J, Thun MJ. Cancer statistics, 2009. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2009;59(4):225–249.
2U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2005 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2009. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Trends in childhood cancer mortality—United States, 1990–2004. MMWR 2007;56(48):1257–1261.
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