CDC Finds Cancer Death Rates Among Children and Adolescents Declined by 20%, With Brain Cancer Topping Leukemia as Leading Cause of Death
- During 1999–2014, the cancer death rate for children and adolescents aged 1 to 19 in the United States declined by 20%.
- During 1999–2014, brain cancer replaced leukemia as the most common cancer-causing death in this age group, accounting for 3 of 10 cancer deaths in 2014.
- The cancer death rate for males aged 1 to 19 in 2014 was 30% higher than it was for their female counterparts.
- Declines in cancer death rates during 1999–2014 were experienced by both white and black persons aged 1 to 19 and for all 5-year age groups.
New findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the cancer death rate for children and adolescents aged 1 to 19 has been steadily declining since the mid-1970s and dropped by 20% from 1999 to 2014, the result of advances in therapy, especially for leukemia. During that time, a shift occurred, with brain cancer replacing leukemia as the most common cancer-causing death in this age group, accounting for 3 of 10 cancer deaths in 2014. The report by Curtin et al was published in the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief.
Data Source and Methods
The mortality and population data were extracted from the National Center for Health Statistics’ 1999–2014 multiple cause-of-death mortality files. Trends were evaluated using the Joinpoint Regression Program. Death rates are per 100,000 population and are based on April 1 bridged-race census counts for the years 2000 and 2010 as well as July 1 bridged-race estimates for 1999, 1999–2001, and 2011–2014 from the vintage 2014 postcensal series. Male-to-female differences in cancer rates were based on rate ratios calculated as the male rate divided by the female rate.
From 1999 through 2014, cancer death rates declined for both male and female children and adolescents aged 1 to 19. In 2014, the cancer death rate was 20% lower than it was in 1999. Additional findings show:
- The cancer death rate for females in 2014 (1.98) was 22% lower than the 1999 rate (2.54), whereas the rate for males in 2014 (2.57) was 18% lower than the 1999 rate (3.15).
- The overall cancer death rate declined by one-fifth during 1999–2014, with all 5-year age groups experiencing declines ranging from 14% to 26%.
- Parity in cancer death rates was observed between African American and Caucasian persons aged 1 to 19, with both groups experiencing declines during the period.
- More than one-half of all cancer deaths among children and adolescents aged 1 to 19 in 1999 and 2014 were attributable to either leukemia or brain cancer. During that period, a shift occurred, with brain cancer replacing leukemia as the leading type of cancer-causing death among this age group.
- Other common sites of cancer-causing deaths among children and adolescents were bone and articular cartilage (10.1% in 2014), thyroid and other endocrine glands (9.0%), and mesothelial and soft tissue (7.7)%. These cancers, along with brain cancer and leukemia, accounted for more than 8 of 10 (81.6%) cancer deaths among children and adolescents in 2014.
- Although accounting for a small percentage of all cancer deaths in this age group, deaths due to cancer of the kidneys and renal pelvis declined from 2.8% in 1999 to 1.8% in 2014.
- Cancer death rates continued to be higher for male children and adolescents than for their female counterparts. During 1999–2014, the male-to-female rate ratios ranged from 1.1 to 1.3, and the rate ratio was 1.3 in 2014.
The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.