According to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published on Tuesday, the number of childhood cancer diagnoses has been increasing in the US for over a decade.
In the US, there were 14,381 new cancer diagnoses for children in 2019. This is about 177 cases per 1 million kids and teens under age 19 years. The incidence rates have decreased since 2016, but they are still 8% higher than in 2003 when there were 165 new cases per 1 million children and teenagers.
Dr. David Siegel is a pediatric oncologist and epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was the lead researcher of the study. Previous studies also showed increased survival rates. The combination of increasing incidence and decreasing deaths means there are now more cancer survivors who need care and resources for the long term.
Researchers analyzed the incidence rates of cancer by type, age, geographical region, and other demographic factors. Siegel believes that the detailed data can be used to better direct resources towards areas where they are most needed, such as clinical trials and supportive care.
According to CDC statistics, leukemia is the most common childhood cancer. New diagnoses increased from 43 per 1 million children in 2003 up to 47 in 2019. The CDC also reported an increase in new diagnoses for lymphoma and liver tumors.
The number of new melanoma cases has decreased from approximately 6 per 1,000,000 children in 2003 to around 3.
Researchers used medical records from the CDC federal cancer statistics database to conduct this study. By 2003, all 50 states had reported data. This provided a comprehensive picture of childhood cancers in the US. Data is not available for a few months after a cancer diagnosis, so the data that was available to the researchers at the time of this study came from 2019.
Siegel explained that this data lag may explain a part of the recent drop in incidence rates. This is especially true given the logistical challenges caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. There is still hope.
He said that it is possible there are positive reasons for the decrease in cancer incidence. Siegel, along with his co-authors in the study, point out that there may be a relationship between lower rates of cancer and public health initiatives emphasizing sun protection for younger people.
Siegel stated that'some data artifacts could be in play'.
The complexity of trends is also influenced by factors such as the changes in cancer detection, reporting, and risk factors.
Siegel explained that because pediatric cancer is so rare, it is important to collect a large amount of data in order to better understand the disease. This year, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, which focuses on survivorship and treatment, as well as access to research, was reauthorized with commitments until fiscal year 2028.
This legislation has as one of its goals to make data on pediatric cancer more accessible within a shorter period.
Siegel stated that he hoped the data would become more real-time, and help clinicians to use it more quickly in order to meet patients' needs and improve their outcomes.