Childhood Cancer Statistics
- Approximately 11,000 U.S. children under age 15 are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2020. About 1,200 deaths of children under age 15 are anticipated.
- In Texas, more than 1,800 children under age 20 are diagnosed with cancer and almost 200 children die annually.
- Leukemias (28 percent) and brain/central nervous system cancers (26 percent) make up more than half of childhood cancers.
- The five-year survival rate now exceeds 80 percent, which has increased significantly in the last few decades due to treatment advances. The survival rate for the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, has improved dramatically to 90 percent. Several other types of childhood cancer, including pediatric kidney tumors and most forms of lymphoma, now have five-year survival rates approaching or greater than 90 percent.
A large brain tumor left a six-year-old girl unable to walk or talk. After her brain tumor resection and proton therapy - an ultra-precise form of radiation - at Texas Center for Proton Therapy, she is talking, doing arts and crafts, and singing again. Caitlynne wrapped up her final proton treatment with big smiles and a celebration.
Childhood Cancer Symptoms and Signs
Cancers in children may be difficult to recognize, as symptoms are often similar to those caused by common illnesses or injuries. Parents should watch for unusual signs that persist and consult a physician with any concerns.
- An unusual lump or mass
- Unusual swelling
- Unexplained paleness
- Lack of energy
- Easy bruising
- Persistent pain in one area of the body
- Unexplained fever
- A prolonged illness
- Frequent headaches, often with vomiting
- Sudden eye or vision changes
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained bleeding or rash
The origin of most childhood cancers is unknown and cannot be prevented. A small number of environmental factors, such as exposure to radiation, may increase childhood cancer risk. Children with genetic syndromes like Down syndrome face an increased risk for developing leukemia. In a small number of cases, inherited genes can be linked to an increased risk for some forms of cancer in children. Physicians may recommend close monitoring.