Childhood Cancer Rates Up, But Mortality Down, Since 1975

Report says further progress will require deeper understanding of mechanisms that drive cancer

WEDNESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Despite increasing incidence rates, childhood cancer mortality rates have declined since 1975, and further success in reducing these rates will require new treatment paradigms that build on an increased understanding of molecular processes, according to research published online April 19 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Malcolm A. Smith, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues examined incidence and survival data for childhood cancers from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 9 registries, and mortality data based on deaths reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers found that childhood cancer incidence rates increased significantly from 1975 to 2006, most notably for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Mortality rates, however, declined more than 50 percent during that time. Deaths from leukemia and lymphoma declined significantly during most of the 32-year period, with the decline slowing after 1998; mortality rates for other childhood cancers decreased significantly from 1975 to 1996 and remained stable through 2006.

"Approximately 38,000 childhood malignant cancer deaths were averted in the United States from 1975 through 2006 as a result of more effective treatments identified and applied during this period. Continued success in reducing childhood cancer mortality will require new treatment paradigms building on an increased understanding of the molecular processes that promote growth and survival of specific childhood cancers," the authors write.

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