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Title: Cancer surveillance series: recent trends in childhood cancer incidence and mortality in the United States.
Authors: Linet MS,  Ries LA,  Smith MA,  Tarone RE,  Devesa SS
Journal: J Natl Cancer Inst
Date: 1999 Jun 16
Branches: BB, REB
PubMed ID: 10379968
PMC ID: not available
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Public concern about possible increases in childhood cancer incidence in the United States led us to examine recent incidence and mortality patterns. METHODS: Cancers diagnosed in 14540 children under age 15 years from 1975 through 1995 and reported to nine population-based registries in the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program were investigated. Age-adjusted incidence was analyzed according to anatomic site and histologic categories of the International Classification of Childhood Cancer. Age-adjusted U.S. mortality rates were calculated. Trends in rates were evaluated by use of standard regression methods. RESULTS: A modest rise in the incidence of leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, was largely due to an abrupt increase from 1983 to 1984; rates have decreased slightly since 1989. For brain and other central nervous system (CNS) cancers, incidence rose modestly, although statistically significantly (two-sided P = .020), largely from 1983 through 1986. A few rare childhood cancers demonstrated upward trends (e.g., the 40% of skin cancers designated as dermatofibrosarcomas, adrenal neuroblastomas, and retinoblastomas, the latter two in infants only). In contrast, incidence decreased modestly but statistically significantly for Hodgkin's disease (two-sided P = .037). Mortality rates declined steadily for all major childhood cancer categories, although less rapidly for brain/CNS cancers. CONCLUSIONS: There was no substantial change in incidence for the major pediatric cancers, and rates have remained relatively stable since the mid-1980s. The modest increases that were observed for brain/CNS cancers, leukemia, and infant neuroblastoma were confined to the mid-1980s. The patterns suggest that the increases likely reflected diagnostic improvements or reporting changes. Dramatic declines in childhood cancer mortality represent treatment-related improvements in survival.