-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Progress has been made
in fighting childhood cancer in the United States, but many
challenges remain, a new report finds.
There will be an estimated 15,780 new cases of childhood cancer
diagnosed this year, and 1,960 deaths from childhood cancer among
patients aged 19 and younger, according to the American Cancer
The annual incidence of childhood cancer in that age group is
18.8 per 100,000, and about one in 285 youngsters will be diagnosed
with cancer before age 20. Currently, about one in 530 young adults
aged 20 to 39 is a childhood cancer survivor.
While advances in surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy
have led to increased survival among childhood cancer patients,
many of the survivors have a high risk of long-term health
problems, said the report. It was published online Jan. 31 in
CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
For example, survivors of childhood brain tumors may suffer
difficulties such as seizures, hearing loss, blindness, weakness in
the arms and legs, hormone imbalances, thyroid issues and decreased
The report also noted that only a small percentage of childhood
cancers have known, preventable causes, and that early detection of
these cancers can be difficult because some symptoms are similar to
those of common childhood illnesses.
"Progress in childhood cancer has been dramatic for some sites, but we cannot let that blind us from the fact that progress has been disappointingly slow for other sites, and that cancer remains the second leading cause of death in children," Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, said in a society news release.
"There is much work to be done to improve outcomes, to reduce side effects associated with cancer and its treatment and, we hope, to understand more about the molecular events that lead to childhood cancer in order to come up with ways to prevent or detect it early," he added.
Jennifer Cullen, a cancer epidemiologist and a board member of
the American Childhood Cancer Organization, wrote in an
accompanying editorial: "We have seen successes for some
[childhood] cancers, but others remain incurable and
The new report "is an essential inventory to help evaluate our
progress and shortfalls" and shows "tremendous variation in
survival and success rates across the different cancers affecting
children," she noted.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on
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