childhood cancer facts

Cancer Facts Icons-02

All statistics below are for U.S. children from birth through age 19 unless stated otherwise. This summary relies on the most recent published data with respect to its contents, some of which dates back one or more years.

Source: Coaliton Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2)

  • The overall incidence of childhood cancer is on the increase, averaging 0.7% increase per year since 1975. Children (0-14) increased 0.9%, while adolescents and young adults, overall cancer incidence rates increased an average of 0.9% per year from 2012 to 2016. (37, 7F)
  • 1,190 children (aged 0 -14) and 540 adolescents (aged 15-19) are expected to die from cancer in 2020 (excluding benign and borderline malignant brain tumors).(1A)
  • In 2020, there will be approximately 89,500 cancer cases diagnosed and about 9,270 cancer deaths in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) ages 15 to 39 years in the US. (40)
  • About 1 in 285 children will develop cancer before the age of 20. (6A) 
  • 47 children per day or 17,293 children (aged 0-19) were diagnosed with cancer in 2018.(45) 
  • As of 2018, 4,317 children and teens under age 20 were diagnosed with CNS tumors, accounting for 25% of total cancer diagnoses in the age group 0-19. (45)
  • The average age at diagnosis is 8 overall (ages 0 to 19), 5 years old for children (aged 0 to 14), and 17 years old for adolescents (aged 15 to 19) (9), while adults’ average age for cancer diagnosis is 65 (7a)
  • Childhood cancer is not one disease – there are more than 12 major types of pediatric cancers and over 100 subtypes. (1)
  • Most new cancer diagnoses in children are for leukemia (28.1%) and brain/CNS cancers (26.5%), while malignant epithelial neoplasms and melanomas (23.3%) and brain/CNS cancers (21.9%) are top cancers for adolescents. (45)
  • Cancer in children and young adults is different from cancer that develops later in life. Some of the unwanted side effects of cancer treatments cause more harm to children than they do to adults. This is because children’s bodies are still growing and developing, so cancer and its treatment are more likely to affect developing organs. (7H)
  • More than 95% of childhood cancer survivors will have a significant health related issue by the time they are 45 years of age (2); these health related issues are side-effects of either the cancer or more commonly, the result of its treatment. 1/3 rd. will suffer severe and chronic side effects; 1/3rd will suffer moderate to severe health problems; and 1/3rd will suffer slight to moderate side effects. (2)
  • Cognitive impairment affects up to one-third of childhood cancer survivors. (38)
  • A large follow-up study of pediatric cancer survivors found that almost 10% developed a second cancer (most commonly female breast, thyroid, and bone) over the 30-year period after the initial diagnosis. (38)
  • Treatment for cancer may cause infertility in childhood cancer survivors. The risk of infertility increases after treatment with chemotherapy with alkylating agents, such as cisplatin, cyclophosphamide, busulfan, lomustine, and procarbazine. (39) 
  • Female childhood cancer survivors who were treated with chemotherapy— even if they did not receive radiation treatments to their chest — are six times more likely than the general population to be diagnosed with breast cancer later in life. For those who did receive chest radiation, that chance increases exponentially and is on par with those who have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. (28)
  • Childhood cancer survivors are at a 15-fold increased risk of developing Congestive Heart Failure and are at 7-fold higher risk of premature death due to cardiac causes, when compared with the general population.  There is a strong dose-dependent relation between anthracycline chemotherapy exposure and CHF risk, and the risk is higher among those exposed to chest radiation. (33)
  • Children who were treated for bone cancer, brain tumors, and Hodgkin lymphoma, or who received radiation to their chest, abdomen, or pelvis, have the highest risk of serious late effects from their cancer treatment, including second cancers, joint replacement, hearing loss, and congestive heart failure. (4)
  • Life expectancy for five year childhood cancer survivors has steadily increased.  Life expectancy for those treated in the 70’s is only 48.5 years and survivors treated in the 80’s have a life expectancy of 53.7 years, while those treated in the 90’s rose to 57.1 years. (41)
  • Compared with the average stay among children and adolescents, those for cancer care were more than twice as expensive ($17,500 compared with $8,500 per stay) and about two days longer than the typical stay (6.4 versus 4.5 days). Pediatric cancer stays were also more expensive ($17,500 versus $12,100), but not any longer than adult cancer stays. (5)
  • The average cost associated with childhood cancer in 2018 was $833,000 for one child for medical costs and lost parental wages. (36)
  • One in four families lose more than 40% of their annual household income as a result of childhood cancer treatment-related work disruption, while one in three families face other work disruptions such as having to quit work or change jobs. (36)
  • More than 90% of children and adolescents who are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States are cared for at a children’s cancer center that is affiliated with the NCI-supported Children’s Oncology Group (COG).  Children’s Oncology Group is the world’s largest organization that performs clinical research to improve the care and treatment of children and adolescents with cancer.  Each year, approximately 4,000 children who are diagnosed with cancer enroll in a COG-sponsored clinical trial. COG trials are sometimes open to individuals aged 29 years or even older when the type of cancer being studied is one that occurs in children, adolescents, and young adults. (4)
  • As reflected below in the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Funded Research Portfolio, from 2008 through 2018, the NCI spent an average of 4.08% of its research funding on childhood cancers research. (7C)


We’ve funded projects for


children around the world

0 +
0 М
Funds Raised
0 +