Child and teen cancer deaths fell 24% in the last 2 decades – CDC

The rate of child and teen cancer deaths in the U.S. fell 24% from 2001 to 2021, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report looked at death rates for Black, Hispanic and non-Hispanic white youths up to 19 years old. Those three groups comprised 92% of all youth cancer deaths in 2021, the report noted.

Death rates among children of all ages in those groups dropped between 2001 and 2011. But after 2011, only children 9 and younger saw “significant” declines.

All races saw cancer death rates fall 15-17% within the first decade, but only death rates among white children continued to drop significantly after 2011.

The death rate dropped only slightly for Hispanic youths and increased for Black youths between 2011 and 2021. By 2021, the report noted, the rate for white youths was 19-20% lower than for their Black and Hispanic peers.

The report uses data from the National Vital Statistics System, which tracks death certificate information from across the U.S. The authors looked specifically at death certificates of patients under 20 years of age who died from the most common forms of cancer in that age group: leukemia, brain cancer and a category of bone cancer called “bone and articular cartilage cancer.”

“The overall message is good news,” said Sally Curtin, a CDC statistician and the lead author of the report.

Death rates “declined across the board: all the five-year age groups, male, female, and all the race groups,” she said.

Pediatric oncologists say the overall decline could be explained by advancements in treatments for certain cancers.

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