Childhood Cancer Facts

Childhood Cancer Statistics

Provided by the PAC2 Statistics and Data Committee.

13,500 children 19 and under diagnosed each year in the US.
36 children diagnosed each day.
175,058 children are diagnosed each year worldwide (age 0-14)

Number of diagnoses per cancer type in the US

2,900 Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) 2,700 Brain Tumors 900 Hodgkin Disease 900 Soft Tissue Sarcoma 800Lymphoma (non-Hodgkin) 650 Neuroblastoma 540 Germ Cell Tumors 500 Acute Mylogenous Leukemia (AML)
500 (Wilms) Kidney 450 Melanoma 400 Osteosarcoma 350 Rhabdomyosarcoma 300 Retinoblastoma 250 Ewing Sarcoma 200 Hepatoblastoma 1160 Other
3 out of 5 or App. 60 percent or Nearly 2/3 Survivors experience late effects
350,000Survivors are ages 18-45
40,000 children 19 and under undergoing treatment each year
Cancer rates have increased 0.6% every year since 1975. Equals an overall increase of 21% in the last 36 years.
Mortality rates have decreased overall 80% survivorship, up from 50% in 1970s

Incidence of Childhood Cancer

  • Each year around 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer in the US
    • One in every 330 Americans develops cancer before the age of twenty.
    • On the average, 36 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer everyday in the United States (around 46 per school day).
    • On the average, one in every four elementary schools has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients.
  • The incidence of invasive pediatric cancers is up 29% in the past 20 years.
  • The causes of most childhood cancers are unknown. At present, childhood cancer cannot be prevented.
  • Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region. In the United States, the incidence of cancer among adolescents and young adults is increasing at a greater rate than any other age group, except those over 65 years.

Mortality associated with Childhood Cancer

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the United States.
  • 1 in 5 children diagnosed with cancer will die within 5-years
  • 1 in 3 children diagnosed with cancer will not live-out a normal life-span (excess mortality)
  • Some pediatric brain tumors, such as brain stem gliomas and pontine gliomas, are terminal upon diagnosis and no new protocols have been developed in 30 years.
  • Many pediatric cancers, including neuroblastoma and disseminated medulloblastoma, are terminal upon progression or recurrence.
  • The average age of death for a child with cancer is 8, causing a child to lose 69 years of expected life.
  • Childhood cancers affect more potential patient-years of life than any other cancer except breast and lung cancer.
  • Cancer kills more children than AIDs, asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and congenital anomalies combined.

Long Term Health Effects of the “Cure”

  • 74% of childhood cancer survivors have chronic illnesses, and some 40% of childhood cancer survivors have severe illnesses or die from such illnesses.
  • Childhood cancer survivors are at significant risk for secondary cancers later in life.
  • Cancer treatments can affect a child’s growth, fertility, and endocrine system. Child survivors may be permanently immunologically suppressed.
  • Radiation to a child’s brain can significantly damage cognitive function, or if radiation is given at a very young age, limiting the ability to read, do basic math, tell time or even talk.
  • Physical and neurocognitive disabilities resulting from treatment may prevent childhood cancer survivors from fully participating in school, social activities and eventually work, which can cause depression and feelings of isolation.
  • Childhood cancer survivors have difficulty getting married and obtaining jobs, health and life insurance.

Funding Disparities

  • Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded.
  • In 20 years the FDA has initially approved only two drugs for any childhood cancer – 1/2 of all chemotherapies used for children’s cancers are over 25 years old
  • Research and development for new drugs from pharmaceutical companies comprises 60% of funding for adult cancer drugs and close to zero for childhood cancers.
  • However, the NCI spends 96% of its budget on adult cancers and only 4% of its budget on children’s cancers.
  •  In dollar terms, NCI’s funding for pediatric clinical trials is $26.4 million while funding for AIDS research is $254 million, and breast cancer is $584 million.
  • Pharmaceutical companies don’t commit resources to childhood cancer research because the adult cancer drug business is viewed as more profitable and less risky to them.
  • Accordingly, there is an estimated $30 million a year gap in childhood cancer research funding.

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