Childhood Cancer Facts & Figures In Brief

Death Rate from Childhood Cancer Has Decreased for Decades

Each year, the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Surveillance and Health Equity Science program analyzes population-based data on childhood cancer as part of its annual Cancer Facts & Figures. In addition to this educational publication, the ACS journal for clinicians, CA, also publishes a Cancer Statistics report. The process is led by Rebecca Siegel, MPH.

Cancer in Children Ages Birth to 14

Cancer is the second most common cause of death among children ages 1 to 14. Accidents are the most common cause.

  • In 2022, it is estimated that 10,470* children will be diagnosed with cancer, and 1,050 will die from the disease.
  • The cancer incidence rate among children has been increasing some since the mid-1970s. The reasons are unclear.
  • In contrast, cancer death rates in children have declined by 71% since 1970. These reductions are largely due to improvements in treatment and more children taking part in clinical trials.
  • Leukemia remains the most common childhood cancer, accounting for 28% of all cancers in children  Death rates for leukemia went down by 84% from 1970 through 2019.
  • Brain and other nervous system tumors are the second-most common type, accounting for 26% of all childhood cancers.

* These numbers do not include benign and borderline malignant brain tumors because they were not required to be reported to cancer registries until 2004. To make statistical estimates like these requires 15 years of historical data.

Cancer in Adolescents Ages 15 to 19

  • In 2022, it is estimated that 5,480 adolescents will be diagnosed with cancer, and 550 will die from the disease.
  • Similar to children, cancer incidence rates among adolescents have increased slightly for decades, while the cancer death rate declined by 61% from 1970 to 2019
  • Brain and other nervous system tumors are the most common type of cancer in adolescents. They account for about 21% of cancers in this age group, followed by 19% from lymphoma.
  • Progress among adolescents has lagged somewhat behind children for complex reasons that include lower enrollment in clinical trials, differences in tumor biology and treatment protocols, as well as treatment tolerance and compliance.

Find more statistics about childhood and adolescent cancer on the Cancer Statistics Center:

  • Estimated new cases and deaths
  • Historical trends in incidence rates
  • Historical trends in death rates
  • 5-year survival rates

Use the analysis tool in the drop-down menu to see any of these statistics in comparison to other types of cancer.

Diagnosis of Brain Tumors Among Children and Adolescents Has Slightly Increased

"Although brain tumor survival is relatively high in children compared to adults, there are several tumor types for which survival remains dismally low. In addition, while enrollment in clinical trials is generally high in children diagnosed with cancer, racial/ethnic disparities in childhood brain tumor survival points towards a critical need for equitable enrollment in clinical trials for non-White children."Kim Miller, MPH

Learn about brain tumor statistics for children and adolescents.


Spotlight on ACS Childhood Cancer Research Publications

Here are some examples of the research areas and scientists the American Cancer Society (ACS) helps fund. These investigators are working to find answers that will save more lives from childhood cancer and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.  

Study Shows Childhood Cancer Survivors Can Expect to Have a Longer Life Expectancy Due to Improvements in Treatment Over the Last 30 Years

Can survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer expect to live longer due to improvements in treatment? We used simulation modeling to find out—by estimating life expectancy of survivors diagnosed in the last 30 years.

“Simulation modeling is a powerful tool for leveraging data from cohort studies and other sources to understand the lifelong risks childhood and adolescent cancer survivors face as adults and for identifying opportunities to improve care and long-term health for children diagnosed with cancer.”—Jennifer Yeh, PhD

See the highlight about Dr. Yeh's published study.


Potential New Hope for Infants with a Hard-to-Treat Leukemia

“Grants from the American Cancer Society (ACS) help researchers like me identify new therapies for cancer patients. One new drug my lab is developing is a targeted therapy for children with mixed lineage leukemia (MLL), which has a very poor prognosis.

"By blocking the interaction of the MLL protein with another protein called menin, we developed very potent small molecule inhibitors that effectively block leukemia cell growth and induce complete remission in mice with leukemia from patient samples.

"Our work led to identification of a very potent and selective drug candidate that is currently in phase I clinical trial in these young leukemia patients."—Jolanta Grembecka, PhD

See the highlight about Dr. Grembecka's published study.


Extramural Discovery Research Grants in Childhood Cancer

The American Cancer Society funds scientists who conduct research about cancer at medical schools, universities, research institutes, and hospitals throughout the United States. We use a rigorous and independent peer review process to select the most innovative research projects proposals to fund. 

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Total Childhood Cancer Grants in Effect as of August 1, 2021

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Total Childhood Cancer Grants in Effect as of August 1, 2021

ACS Childhood Cancer Research News