Pediatric Cancer More Common In White, Male Adolescents from Northeast

Dr. Jun Li, MD, PhD, MPH Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch Division of Cancer Prevention and Control National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health PromotionMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Jun Li, MD, PhD, MPH
Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion


Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Li: Using the 2001 to 2009 National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) and Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data, which represent 94.2% of the US population, we identified 120,137 pediatric cancer cases with an incidence rate of 171 cases per million children and adolescents.

Overall cancer incidence rates were stable from 2001-2009. However, we found rates were increasing significantly at 1.3% per year in African American children and adolescents.  This increase might be partially attributed to the rise among renal tumors and thyroid cancer. We also found rising incidence in thyroid cancer and renal carcinoma among children and adolescents.

As has been previously established, pediatric cancer is more common in males, in white, in adolescents, and in the Northeast. Leukemia is the most common pediatric cancer, followed by central nervous system (CNS) neoplasms, and then lymphomas.

Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Li: A decreasing trend of melanoma incidence in the US pediatric population was unexpected. That finding may be largely due to late-reporting of melanoma cases. As we were not able to use the delay-adjustment method for NPCR and SEER combined data, the decreasing rates of melanoma must be interpreted critically.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Li: First, although the incidence of some pediatric cancer types is increasing, the chances for developing these cancers are very small.

Second, we are hopeful that our findings could help clinicians and researchers generate research hypotheses to better understand the reasons behind the increase in these cancers.

Finally, while not a focus of the study itself, it bears mentioning that no population-based cancer screening is recommended for children and adolescents.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Li: Our study suggests areas for further investigation such as examination of epidemiology of cancer in African Americans children and adolescents, and in thyroid cancer and renal carcinoma among all children and adolescents. Associations of obesity with thyroid cancer and renal carcinoma have been reported in the literature, and more research is warranted for this younger population. The associations between thyroid cancer and radiation exposures including medical radiation merit further investigations in this area, as well.

Citation:

Cancer Incidence Rates and Trends Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2001-2009
David A. Siegel, Jessica King, Eric Tai, Natasha Buchanan, Umed A. Ajani, and Jun Li

Pediatrics peds.2013-3926; published ahead of print September 8, 2014, doi:10.1542/peds.2013-3926