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About Pediatric Cancer

In the United States, approximately 12,400 children and adolescents are diagnosed with pediatric cancer each year, thrusting children and their families into complex medical systems, economic hardship and emotional turmoil. Today, cancer remains the most common disease-related cause of death for one to 19-year-olds, and the fourth most common cause of all deaths, after accidents, homicides and suicides. 2

Causes of childhood cancers remain largely mysterious, and researchers have few answers as to why certain children develop cancer and others don’t. But there is reason to be hopeful. The odds of a child developing cancer by the age of 19 are still relatively low––approximately one in 330––and death rates for most types of childhood cancer have declined dramatically since the 1970s, largely as a result of progress made in treating leukemias, especially acute lymphocytic leukemia or acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which accounts for almost one third of all pediatric cancer cases. 3

The Search for Clues

Researchers are shedding light on some of the causes of pediatric cancer. We now know that chromosome disorders account for most types of leukemia, and that high levels of radiation––perhaps as a result of prenatal x-rays––may also result in certain childhood cancers.

Other risk factors include pre-natal diet, smoking or alcohol consumption, as well as contracting infectious diseases such as Epstein-Barr virus or Hodgkin disease while pregnant.

Learn about common types of pediatric cancer »

Find out about warning signs and symptoms »

Read about clinical trials and studies »


1. Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation
2. Pediatric Oncology Resource Center
3. CureSearch
4. Children’s Cause Cancer Advocacy


Each school day,  46 children are  diagnosed with cancer.1

Survival Statistics

Each year, approximately 10,100 children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. survive.

Although the five-year survival rate is steadily increasing, one quarter of children will die within five years from the time of diagnosis. 2

Cancer remains the number one disease killer of America's children––more than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, asthma and AIDS combined. 2

Long-term survival after a diagnosis of cancer depends on a child's age and the location and type of cancer. 4

Overall, children with leukemia now have an 80 percent chance of survival.4

If a child is between 15 and 19 years old, there is a 51 percent chance of surviving acute leukemia. If an infant develops leukemia, survival is only 33 percent. 4

Brain tumors are now the leading cause of cancer death in children under age 15. 4

Each year, about 12,400 children are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. and 2,300 die. 4