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Childhood Cancer Facts & Figures


  • Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 20
  • The causes of childhood cancer are not well understood
  • While treatment advances have increased the survival rate for many childhood cancers, it is still the leading cause of death by disease in children
  • Overall, more than 80% of children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer will live at least five years after their diagnosis
  • Regular, life-long follow-up care is vital because childhood cancer survivors are at risk for late effects that can occur many years later, including secondary cancers

What are the most common types of childhood cancer?

  • The most common types of cancer in children and adolescents 1-19 are brain cancer, acute lymphocytic leukemia, bone and articular cartilage, thyroid and other endocrine glands, mesothelial and soft tissue
  • The most common cancers among adolescents age 15-19 are Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid carcinoma, brain and central nervous system and testicular germ cell tumors
  • Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and cuts across all ethnic groups, socioeconomic class and geographic region in the U.S.
  • The causes of most childhood cancers are unknown and are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environment, unlike many adult cancers

Where do children with cancer get treated?

  • More than 90% of children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer in the US are treated at a Children's Oncology Group (COG) hospital
  • COG is the world's largest organization that performs clinical research to improve the care and treatment of children with cancer
  • The COG has nearly 100 active clinical trials open at any given time

What is the outlook for children with cancer?

  • The cancer mortality rate among children 1-19 was 20% lower in 2014 than in 1999
  • The cancer mortality rate for males aged 1-19 in 2014 was 30% higher than for females
  • Health problems that develop months or years after treatment are known as late effects
  • The specific late effects a childhood cancer survivor might experience depend on the type and location of the cancer, type of treatment received and patient-specific factors such as age at diagnosis
  • Two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors will experience at least one late effect and 30% of those will experience a serious late effect such as a secondary cancer