Brain Cancer Replaces Leukemia as Most Common Cause of Pediatric Cancer Mortality

September 20, 2016
Lisa Schulmeister, MN, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

Brain cancer has replaced leukemia as the leading type of cancer causing death among children.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics Division of Vital Statistics reviewed the cancer incidence and mortality rates among American children and adolescents aged 1—19 years, and identified trends during the study period of 1999 to 2014.

The overall cancer death rate among children and adolescents declined 20% from 1999—2014, with all 5-year age groups experiencing declines ranging from 14% to 26%. There was no difference in cancer death rates between white and black children and adolescents, and both groups experienced declines during the period.

Cancer death rates continued to be higher for males aged 1—19 years compared with their female counterparts. More than one-half of all cancer deaths among children and adolescents aged 1–19 years in 1999 and 2014 were attributable to either leukemia or brain cancer.

However, a shift occurred during the period, with brain cancer replacing leukemia as the leading type of cancer causing death among children and adolescents aged 1—19 years. The change reflects a reduction in deaths from leukemia rather than an increase in deaths from brain cancer. The full CDC report is available here.