Brain cancer emerges as major cause for child deaths: Study

According to a recent research, brain cancer has taken over leukemia and has become the major cause of cancer deaths in children.

The report states that pediatric cancer death rates have been dropping since the mid 1970s and describes the changes in cancer death rates among the children and teens aged between 1 to 19.

Lead author Sally Curtin said, “The shift from leukemia to brain cancer as the leading site of cancer death is a noteworthy development in the history of childhood cancer as it was always leukemia until quite recently.”

There were still 1,785 cancer deaths in children and adolescents in 2014, Curtin added.

Brain cancer and leukemia accounted for more than half of the children suffering.

In 1999, six out of 20 cancer deaths among the children were due to leukemia and about five in 20 were due to brain cancer and those numbers had reversed by 2014.

“Major therapeutic advances” in the treatment of cancers, particularly leukemia, has likely resulted in the increases in survivorship, the researchers said.

Overall, the cancer death rate for children and teens dropped 20 percent over the 15 years. Among females, the overall cancer death rate dropped 22 percent and it dropped 18 percent among males.

Throughout the study period, the rate of cancer deaths among males outpaced that of females.

Expert Peter said, “The leukemia specialists have done a really great job of stratifying these patients to give them appropriate therapy based on whether they feel their tumors are more aggressive or not.”

Another expert Manley, however, pointed out that survival rate among children with brain tumors has not changed much.

“Still, the survival rates related to certain subtypes of brain tumors, such as low-grade gliomas, are improving and that current research is very promising. “There’s some really interesting information that’s coming out,” Manley added.

However, pediatric cancer doesn’t receive nearly as much national funding as adult cancers, he noted.

“Overall, the important thing to take from this [report] is that, across the board, there are significantly [fewer] cancer deaths just in the last 15 years. So the hope is, in the next 15 years, we’ll continue to see that decline,” Manley said.


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