Skip to main content
Facts Concerning Childhood Cancer
- Childhood cancers are the #1 disease killer of children—more than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.
- Childhood cancer is not a single disease, but rather many different types that fall into 12 major categories. Common adult cancers are extremely rare in children, yet many cancers are almost exclusively found in children.
- Childhood cancers are cancers that primarily affect children, teens and young adults. When cancer strikes children and young adults, it affects them differently than it would an adult.
- Attempts to detect childhood cancers at an earlier stage, when the disease would react more favorably to treatment, have largely failed. Young patients often have a more advanced stage of cancer when first diagnosed. (Approximately 20% of adults with cancer show evidence the disease has spread, yet almost 80% of children show that the cancer has spread to distant sites at the time of diagnosis).
- Cancer in childhood occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region.
- The causes of most childhood cancers are unknown and at present, cannot be prevented (most adult cancers result from lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, occupation and other exposure to cancer-causing agents).
- One in every 330 Americans will develop cancer by the age of 20. On the average, 12,500 children and adolescents in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year.
- On average, 1 in every 4 elementary schools has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients. In the U.S., about 46 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer every weekday.
- While the cancer death rate has dropped more dramatically for children than for any other age group, 2,300 children and teenagers will die each year from cancer.
- Childhood leukemia (making up the largest group of childhood cancers) was once a certain death sentence, but now can be cured almost 80% of the time.
- Today, up to 75% of the children with cancer can be cured, yet some forms of childhood cancers have proven so resistant to treatment that, in spite of research, a cure is illusive.
- Several childhood cancers continue to have a very poor prognosis, including: brain stem tumors, metastatic sarcomas, relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia and relapsed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.