Childhood Cancers

In the US, new cases of Childhood Cancers in 2018, are estimated at 10,590 in children ages 0-14.
The incidence rate has increased by 0.6% each year since. 1975.

However, survival for all invasive, childhood cancers combined has improved markedly over the last
30 years. The 5-year relative survival for 2007-2013 is 83%

Cancer in Children and Adolescents

Cancer is the second most common cause of death among children aged 1 to 14 years in the United States, surpassed only by accidents. In 2018, an estimated 10,590 children (birth to 14 years) will be diagnosed with cancer (excluding benign/borderline malignant brain tumors) and 1,180 will die from the disease. Benign and borderline malignant brain tumors are not included in the 2018 case estimates because the calculation method requires historical data and these tumors were not required to be reported to cancer registries until 2004.

Leukemia accounts for 29% of all childhood cancers (including benign and borderline malignant brain tumors), three‐quarters of which are lymphoid. Brain and other nervous system tumors are second most common (26%), of which approximately one‐quarter are benign/borderline malignant. The third most common category is lymphomas and reticuloendothelial neoplasms (12%), almost one‐half of which are non‐Hodgkin lymphoma (including Burkitt lymphoma) and one‐quarter of which are Hodgkin lymphoma. Soft tissue sarcomas (almost one‐half of which are rhabdomyosarcoma) and neuroblastoma each account for 6% of childhood cancers, followed by renal (Wilms) tumors (5%).9

Cancers in adolescents (aged 15 to 19 years) differ somewhat from those in children in terms of type and distribution. For example, brain and other nervous system tumors (21%) (more than one‐half [58%] of which are benign/borderline malignant) and lymphoma (20%) are equally common, and there are almost twice as many cases of Hodgkin lymphoma as non‐Hodgkin lymphoma. Leukemia is third (13%), followed by germ cell and gonadal tumors (11%) and thyroid carcinoma (11%). Melanoma of the skin accounts for 4% of the cancers diagnosed in adolescents.

Although overall cancer incidence in children and adolescents has been increasing slightly (by 0.6% per year) since 1975, rates appear to have stabilized over the past 5 data years. In contrast, death rates in individuals aged birth to 19 years have declined continuously, from 6.5 (per 100,000 population) in 1970 to 2.3 in 2015, an overall reduction of 65% (67% in children and 61% in adolescents). The 5‐year relative survival rate for all cancers combined improved from 58% during the mid‐1970s to 83% during 2007 through 2013 for children and from 68% to 84% for adolescents. However, survival varies substantially by cancer type and age at diagnosis (Table 14).

Table 14. Five‐Year Relative Survival Rate (%) for:

Most Common Childhood and Adolescent Cancers, United States, 2007 to 2013*

BIRTH TO 14 15 TO 19
All ICCC groups combined 83.0 84.2
Lymphoid leukemia 90.5 74.2
Acute myeloid leukemia 65.1 61.5
Hodgkin lymphoma 97.6 96.1
Non‐Hodgkin lymphoma 90.6 87.1
Central nervous system neoplasms 72.5 78.9
Neuroblastoma & other peripheral nervous cell tumors 79.0 62.8a
Retinoblasoma 95.2 b
Renal tumors 91.8 72.7a
Hepatic tumors 79.0 50.9a
Osteosarcoma 69.8 65.5
Ewing tumor & related bone sarcomas 77.7 61.5
Soft tissue and other extraosseous sarcomas 74.6 68.2
Rhabdomyosarcoma 69.8 45.9
Germ cell and gonadal tumors 92.4 92.0
Thyroid carcinoma 99.4 99.5
Malignant melanoma 93.3 94.0
  • ICCC indicates International Classification of Childhood Cancer.
  • Survival rates are adjusted for normal life expectancy and are based on follow‐up of patients through 2014.
  • The standard error of the survival rate is between 5 and 10 percentage points.
  • Statistic could not be calculated due to fewer than 25 cases during 2007 to 2013.

Signs and Symptoms
1. Unusual mass or swelling
2. Unexplained paleness or loss of energy
3. Sudden increase in the tendency to bruise or bleed
4. Persistent, localized pain or limping
5. Prolonged unexplained fever or illness
6. Frequent headaches
7. Vomiting
8. Sudden eye or vision changes
9. Excessive, rapid weight loss

*Cancer Facts & Figures 2014, Special Section