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Report: Childhood cancer rates continue to rise, but treatment helps drive down deaths

ATLANTA - In its most comprehensive look at the cancers that most commonly affect youths, the American Cancer Society said in a report Friday that childhood cases continues to increase, but death rates have fallen .

Childhood cancer is considered rare, especially compared with cancer in adults. Still, it's the second leading cause of death in children pre-adolescent, school-aged children.

And it is growing more common. New diagnoses have been inching up each year, most recently to about 187 per 1 million kids ages 0 to 19. The increases have been driven by some blood and lymphatic system cancers, including acute lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Experts are not sure why, but they say better diagnosis could be a factor.

The good news: Childhood cancer death rates dropped more than 50 per cent since 1975, to 24 per 1 million kids and adolescents in 2010. Declines have been seen in many of the most common childhood cancers, including blood and lymphatic cancers. Experts say they think better treatment is at least part of the reason.

But progress has not been seen across the board. For example, median survival remains less than a year after diagnosis for a type of brain tumour called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

"We have seen successes for some cancers, but others remain incurable and untreatable," said Jennifer Cullen, a cancer epidemiologist with the U.S. Department of Defence. She wrote an editorial accompanying the report, which is being published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The report estimates that this year 15,780 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed and 1,960 deaths will occur among children and adolescents aged birth to 19 years.




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