Childhood Cancer Facts & Statistics

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As a result of the PAC2 2011 meetings held in DC, the PAC2 Statistics and Data Committee (CureSearch, St. Baldrick's, Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, Aimme's Army, Friends for Life) compiled baseline data with citations.


Number of children 19 and under diagnosed each year in the US



Logan Spector, PhD
University of Minnesota,
COG Epidemiology
Committee Chair
Number of children diagnosed each day

13,500 per year/365 days

Worldwide number diagnosed each year (age 0-14)

World Health
Organization (WHO),
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

800      Lymphoma (non-Hodgkin)

650      Neuroblastoma

540      Germ Cell Tumors

500      Acute Mylogenous Leukemia (AML) 

500      (Wilms) Kidney

Data from Chairs of COG Disease

450      Melanoma 

400      Osteosarcoma 

350      Rhabdomyosarcoma

300      Retinoblastoma

250      Ewing Sarcoma 

200      Hepatoblastoma 

1160    Other

13,500 TOTAL

Number of survivors experiencing
late effects

3 out of 5

App. 60 percent

Nearly 2/3

Logan Spector, PhD
University of Minnesota,
COG Epidemiology
Committee Chair

Number of Survivors who are 18-45
Logan Spector, PhD
University of Minnesota,
COG Epidemiology Committee Chair
Number of children 19 and under undergoing treatment each year

Logan Spector, PhD
University of Minnesota,
COG Epidemiology
Committee Chair

Rates of cancer increasing or decreasing.

 Have increased 0.6% every year since 1975.

Equals an overall increase of 21% in the last 36 years.

American Cancer Society, Cancer
Facts and Figures 2011

Mortality rates of cancer decreasing?

Overall 80% survivorship, up from 50% in 1970s

American Cancer
Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2011

Additional information thanks to our friends at Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and Kids v Cancer is listed below.  To read more, visit the PAC2 Library.

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.


Here's a Dozen:

Four Other Key Facts

  1. The American Cancer Society and LLS fund very little childhood cancer research.
  2. "Curing childhood cancer is the equivalent of curing breast cancer..."
  3. 80% of kids live 5-years -- but is the real, long-term "cure" rate 66%?
  4. Very limited Federal funding of childhood cancer research.

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