According to the most recent report, leukemia has lost its place as the number one cause of cancer related deaths in U.S. children. Now, brain cancer is the leading cause of death in kids.
The details of the report show that all pediatric death rates due to cancer were steadily lowering since the mid-1970s. The report is from the National Center for Health Statistics or NCHS. The report observes the changes that occurred in rates of death in children and teenagers (from ages 1 to 19) due to cancer. The period taken into consideration for the report spanned from 1999 to 2014.
Sally Curtin, the lead author of the current study, said that the change that occurred from leukemia to brain cancer being the most prominent cause of death in children is quite an important development related to the history of childhood cancer. Sally Curtin is also a demographer and statistician at the NCHS, which is also a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A total of 1,785 children and adolescents lost the battle against cancer back in 2014. Approximately half of these deaths were due to leukemia and brain cancer.
If one is to look at the beginning of the report, every six out of twenty cancer related deaths in children were due to leukemia in 1999, while every five in twenty deaths were because of brain cancer. However, the year 2014 observed a reversal of these numbers.
According to the researchers the shift is very likely due to all of the significant therapeutic advances that have been made in order to treat cancer, more specifically leukemia. These treatments allow better survival rates for patients.
The study also observed that the overall rate of cancer in children saw a reduction of 20% during the past 15 years that were part of the report. The rate of death due to cancer in males was reduced to 18% while in females it was as low as 22%.
Dr. Peter Manley also shared his opinion regarding the current report. He wasn’t a part of the study but he did say that leukemia specialists have done an amazing job when it comes to patient stratification related to providing them with the therapy they require with regards to their tumors being aggressive or not. However, he did add that the survivals rates in children suffering from brain tumors haven’t seen a significant change. Dr. Peter Manley is pediatric neuro-oncologist at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
Dr. Manley also added that the overall survival rates linked to certain subtypes of brain tumors are seeing a lot of improvement. Current research being done in this field also seems very promising. An example of subtype of brain tumors includes low-grade gliomas. Dr. Manley is confident that the rate of deaths in children and adolescents due to cancer will continue to lower over the years.
A similar opinion was shared by Elizabeth Ward, senior vice president for intramural research at the American Cancer Society. She too said that effective chemotherapy regime, bone-marrow transplants, etc. has helped oncologists treat leukemia.
A lot of new research being done on brain cancer has to do with the genomics of the dangerous disease. These researches are making use of molecular analysis and genome sequencing in order to understand what causes the abnormality in tumors and promotes their growth. There are researches that focus on targeting the very molecules that play a role in cancer growth and spread.
More research is required in order to save children suffering from cancer, specifically brain cancer. This is because due to the current report the rate of death due to brain cancer hasn’t seen an impactful change since 1999 to 2014.