Research Scientist

Childhood Cancer

shutterstock_76478602Over 90% of all cancers are caused by environmental factors; fewer than 10% are genetic. (WHO)

This means that childhood cancer is often preventable. The good news is over the past 50 years, significant advances in treatment have resulted in improved childhood cancer survival rates. The bad news is the number of children being diagnosed with cancer is on the rise.

Each year, approximately 13,000 American children – about 36 a day -- are diagnosed with cancer. Although more children die from accidents, pediatric cancers continue to be the leading cause of death by disease for all children under the age of 20. (CureSearch)

Childhood cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death among children and adolescents (ages 1-19 years) in the United States, although cancer among children is rare. An estimated 15,780 children and adolescents ages 1-19 years were diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 died of the disease in the United States in 2017. (CDC)

In 2007, approximately 10,400 children under age 15 were diagnosed with cancer. (NCI)
Approximately 1,545 (or 1 out of 5) children diagnosed with cancer lose their fight each year. (NCI)
The average age of children diagnosed is six.
More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year.  (CureSearch)

Three out of five who survive children’s cancer suffer late effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.

There are approximately 350,000 adult survivors of children’s cancer in the United States. - That equates to 1 in 640 adults ages 18-45.

The relative five-year survival rate for children with cancer under 20 is 81.3% (NCI)

Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer.(NIH)

Tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world today.  It causes 80%-90% of all lung cancer deaths, and about 30% of all cancer deaths in developing countries. (WHO)

Between 1975 and 2007: Acute lymphocytic leukemia has increased 42.9%, brain cancer and nervous system cancers in children is up 40.6% and testicular cancer is up 66% in adolescents (NCI)

People of all ages, ethnic and socio-economic groups are affected by cancer, which remains the number one cause of death by disease in children. Forty years ago, the overall survival rate was 10 percent.  Today, the rate is nearly 80 percent, except for many rare cancers which have a lower survival rate. The rate at which childhood cancer is diagnosed has not declined in almost 20 years. (NCI)

From 2001-2003, the following numbers of children ages 0-19 were diagnosed with cancer in geographic areas of the United States.   

Northeast        7,676
Midwest           9,011
South             11,082
West                 8,677
TOTAL            36,446

The prevalence of childhood cancer has increased by 29.4 percent between 1975 and 2007. (NCI)

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Last updated 12-20-2017

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