Childhood Cancer Facts

Childhood Cancer Facts

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children and adolescents in the United States. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

  • Incidence of invasive pediatric cancers is up 29% in the past 20 years. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
    Childhood cancer does not discriminate, sparing no ethnic group, socio-economic class or geographic region. (Source: Centers for Disease Control data)

  • The causes of most pediatric cancers remain a mystery and cannot be prevented. (Source: American Cancer Society)

  • Each year in the United States, approximately 13,500 children and adolescents 18 and under are diagnosed with cancer. That is more than a classroom of kids a day. (Sources: Center for Disease Control and Children’s Oncology Group)

  • One out of every 300 males and one out of every 333 females in America will develop cancer before his or her 20th birthday. (Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology)

  • More than 40,000 children undergo treatment for cancer each year. (Source: Cure Search)

  • Approximately 20 percent of all children with cancer will die from their disease, a secondary cancer, or complications from treatment. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

  • The average age of death for a child with cancer is 8, causing a childhood cancer victim to lose 69 years of expected life years; a significant loss of productivity to society. (Source: Kids V. Cancer)

  • About one in 500 young adults is a childhood cancer survivor. Nearly 2/3 of the survivors later experience significant and chronic medical problems or develop secondary cancers as adults that result from the treatment of their original cancer. (Source: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital)

  • Childhood cancer survivors are at significant risk for secondary cancers later in life. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

  • In the last 20 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only two pediatric cancer drugs — Clolar (clofarabine) and Erwinaze (asparaginase Erwinia chrysanthemi)—that were initially studied in children. Other drugs for children’s cancers were first studied in or approved for adults with cancer. (Source: American Association for Cancer Research)

  • Cancer treatments can affect a child’s growth, fertility, and endocrine system. Child survivors may be permanently immunologically suppressed. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

  • Radiation to a child’s brain can significantly damage cognitive function, or if radiation is given at a very young age, limiting the ability to read, do basic math, tell time or even talk. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

  • Physical and neurocognitive disabilities resulting from treatment may prevent childhood cancer survivors from fully participating in school, social activities and eventually work, which can cause depression and feelings of isolation. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

  • Only about 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s funding goes to all childhood cancers combined. (Source: PAC2)

  • For every six-research dollars spent per patient with AIDS, and every one-research dollar spent per patient with breast cancer, a child with cancer receives just 30 cents. (Source: Cure Search)

What is neuroblastoma?

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) defines neuroblastoma as a rare cancer of the sympathetic nervous system — a nerve network that carries messages from the brain throughout the body.  It is usually found in young children and is the most common solid mass cancer among infants.  These solid tumors – which take the form of a lump or mass — may begin in nerve tissues in the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, or most commonly, in the adrenal gland. They may also spread to other areas of the body, including bone and bone marrow. The cause of neuroblastoma is unknown.

 Neuroblastoma facts

  • Neuroblastoma affects approximately 700 children a year and is most commonly found in children under the age of 5.

  • It is a rare cancer of the sympathetic nervous system, a nerve network that carries messages from the brain throughout the body.

  • Most neuroblastoma begins in the abdomen in the adrenal gland, next to the spinal cord or in the chest.

  • Neuroblastoma can spread to the bones, bone marrow, brain, spine, liver, lymph nodes, skin and around the eyes.

  • The first symptoms are often vague and may include fatigue and loss of appetite, which is why it can be hard to diagnose.

  • 70% of cases at diagnosis have already spread to other areas of the body, which places the cancer in a Stage 4 category.

  • The 5-year survival rate for Stage 4 neuroblastoma is 30%.

  • 60% of patients with neuroblastoma will relapse. Once in relapse, the survival rate drops to less than 5%.

  • There are no known cures for relapsed neuroblastoma.

  • Neuroblastoma has one of the lowest survival rates of all pediatric cancers and accounts for 15% of all pediatric cancer deaths.