Childhood Cancer Facts & Statistics

Incidence of Childhood Cancer

  1. The incidence of childhood cancer has increased an average of a 0.6% per year from 1975 to 2010, from 12.5 to 16.8 cases per 100,000 population.  This represents about a 35% increase in the number of children diagnosed over that period.
  2. In 2014 is it expected that overall, 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before age 20.
  3. About 43 children per day or 15,780 children total are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2014.  This includes 10,450 aged 0 to 14, and 5,330 aged 15 to 19
  4. The average age at diagnosis is 6 years old, while adults’ average age is 66
  5. Childhood cancer in not one disease, there are 16 major types of pediatric cancers and over 100 subtypes.
  6. The causes of most childhood cancers are unknown. At present, childhood cancer cannot be prevented.
  7. 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.

Five-Year Survival

  1. The average 5-year survival rate for all childhood cancers combined is 83%.
  2. Cancer survival rates vary not only for the different types of cancer, but also upon factos specific to each child.
  3. Survival rates for childhood cancers can range from as little as 0% for cancers such as DIPG, a type of brain cancer, to or as much as 90% for ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) leukemia, one specific form of leukemia.
  4. In 2010 there were 379,112 childhood cancer survivors in the United States. 
  5. Approximately 1 in 530 young adults between the ages of 20 years and 39 years is a survivor of childhood cancers.

Long-Term Mortality

  1. While five years is a common criteria for cancer survival after diagnosis, when reviewing criteria for children, with their whole life ahead, we should also consider long-term survival. 
  2. There are 71 life years lost on average when a child dies of cancer compared to 17 life years lost for adults. (1)
  3. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children, killing more children than all other diseases combined.
  4. Cancer is responsible for more deaths per year in children than all other diseases combined. (4)
  5. PAC2 estimates that around 34% of children diagnosed with childhood cancer survivors will die within 30 years of diagnosis.


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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