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Study finds that the diagnosis of brain tumors among children and adolescents has slightly increased.
Tumors that form in the brain and in other places in the central nervous system (such as the spinal cord) are the second most-commonly diagnosed type of cancer in children (after leukemia). These tumors—often grouped together as “brain tumors”—account for about 1 out of 4 childhood cancers.
Kim Miller, MPH
When brain tumors rapidly grow into nearby tissue, they are considered cancerous (malignant). A little less than a third of brain tumors in children and about half of those in teens are noncancerous (nonmalignant, also called benign/borderline). Noncancerous tumors are contained within the original layer of brain or CNS tissue. This means they don’t spread to other places in the body, but they may still grow in size. As a result, even noncancerous tumors can cause substantial harm because, depending on their size and location, they can cause irreversible damage to the developing young brain.
The incidence rate (number of tumors diagnosed per 100,000 children) for cancerous brain tumors has increased very slowly over time, and a new collaborative study from the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the US and the American Cancer Society (ACS) showed that this trend continued during the most recent decade of available data.
The study, led by Kim D. Miller, MPH, an ACS epidemiologist in the Surveillance and Health Equity Science department, found a 0.7% yearly increase from 2008 to 2017 in incidence rates of cancerous brain tumors among children and a 0.5% yearly increase among adolescents.
Here are some other key findings from the study about childhood and adolescent brain tumors.
Incidence and Mortality Rates
Compared with their cancer-free siblings, adult survivors of childhood brain and other CNS tumors have a/an:
The study authors emphasized that because of the aggressive nature of many cancerous subtypes and limited knowledge about their cause (etiology), ongoing updates of the descriptive epidemiology of these tumors is essential. That requires cancer registries to have more resources to collect and report data in a way that is timely, specific, and broadly consistent across the US.
That enhanced information can allow for ongoing research about the causes of sex, age, and racial/ethnic differences in occurrence, especially for rarer subtypes and understudied populations—and to continue to explore racial/ethnic disparities in the access and receipt of treatment.
Childhood Cancer Research Highlights