Childhood cancers

Incidence in Minnesota:

In 2014 to 2016, an average of 185 cases of cancer (all types) were diagnosed in Minnesota children (from birth to 14 years of age) each year.


All childhood cancer types in Minnesota

 
Age-adjusted rates of new cancer diagnoses in children age 0 to 14 years.
 
Age-adjusted rates of new cancer diagnoses in children age 0 to 14 years.

The rate of childhood cancer has varied somewhat over time, in part due to the relatively small number of cases of childhood cancer. There are no apparent increasing or decreasing trends.


All childhood cancer types, by region

 
Age-adjusted rates of new cancer diagnoses in children age 0 to 14 years, aggregated from 2007 to 2016.
 
Age-adjusted rates of new cancer diagnoses in children age 0 to 14 years, aggregated from 2004 to 2013.

The overall childhood cancer incidence rate varied somewhat across Minnesota regions, but there were no significant differences from the statewide incidence rate. The Minnesota average age-adjusted incidence rate of childhood cancer over the last 10 years was 16.6 new cases per 100,000 children.


Childhood leukemia in Minnesota

 
Age-adjusted rates of new leukemia diagnoses in children age 0 to 14 years.
 
Age-adjusted rates of new leukemia diagnoses in children age 0 to 14 years.

Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer in Minnesota and in the U.S. The rate of childhood leukemia varied somewhat over time. Variation is due in part to the relatively small number of cases. No significant trends have been identified. From 2012 to 2016, the age-adjusted incidence rate of leukemia was 4.4 new cases per 100,000 children. 


Childhood leukemia, by region

 
Age-adjusted rates of new leukemia diagnoses in children age 0 to 14 years, aggregated from 2007 to 2016.
 
Age-adjusted rates of new leukemia diagnoses in children age 0 to 14 years, aggregated from 2004 to 2013.

The overall childhood leukemia incidence rate varied somewhat across Minnesota regions, but there were no significant differences from the statewide incidence rate. The average age-adjusted incidence rate of childhood leukemia was 4.7 new cases per 100,000 children over the last 10 years.


Childhood acute myeloid leukemia in Minnesota

 
Age-adjusted rates of new AML diagnoses in children aged 0-14 years.
 
Age-adjusted rates of new AML diagnoses in children aged 0-14 years.

The rate of childhood AML has a large amount of variation (many peaks and valleys) because the rates are based on small numbers (<10 cancers per year). For this reason, AML rates are presented in three-year groupings to increase precision of the incidence rates. Each year there are about 5 to 10 cases of AML diagnosed each year in Minnesota children.


Childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia in Minnesota

 
Age-adjusted rates of new ALL diagnoses in children aged 0 to 14 years.
 
Age-adjusted rates of new ALL diagnoses in children aged 0 to 14 years.

The overall rate of childhood ALL has been about 3.7 cases per 100,000 children per year since 1988. Most of the cases of leukemia in children in Minnesota are this type. Each year, there are about 30 new cases of ALL diagnosed in Minnesota children.


Childhood brain & other nervous system cancer in Minnesota

 
Age-adjusted rates of new brain & other nervous system cancer diagnoses in children aged 0-14 years.
 
Age-adjusted rates of new brain & other nervous system cancer diagnoses in children aged 0-14 years.

The age-adjusted incidence rate of childhood brain cancer has been relatively stable since 1988. An average of 3.3 new cases per 100,000 children per year have been diagnosed since 1988. Each year there are about 35 to 45 brain and other nervous system cancers diagnosed in Minnesota children. Beginning in 2012, MCRS collected data on cancers that were clinically diagnosed via radiography, CAT scans, and MRIs. Prior to that, data was collected only on tissue-confirmed cases.

What is childhood cancer?

Childhood cancer is defined here as the diagnosis of cancer in an individual aged 14 years and younger. It is sometimes defined as cancer among an individual aged 19 years and younger. About 170 children in Minnesota and nearly 11,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. Although major treatment advances have dramatically improved 5-year relative survival to about 80%, cancer is the leading cause of death due to illness in children under age 15.

The most commonly diagnosed childhood cancers (in descending order) are leukemias, brain and other nervous system tumors, cancer of the soft tissues, lymphoma, and kidney cancer. Because the most common types of childhood cancers are different from the cancers most frequently occurring in adults, researchers believe that the causes may also be quite different.

What are the risk factors for childhood cancers?

In spite of many research studies on childhood cancers, identifying potential causes or risk factors for childhood cancers has been challenging.

  • Ionizing radiation is a risk factor for most types of cancer. 
  • A few rare inherited genetic conditions can increase the risk of childhood cancer.

These are the only established risk factors but account for very few childhood cancers. Distinct patterns or trends in age, sex, and race exist for a number of childhood cancers, but their causes are not well understood. Most childhood cancers have not been shown to have environmental causes. Some studies have suggested that parental exposures such as smoking might increase a child’s risk of certain cancers. This has not been established.

How can childhood cancers be prevented?

Because there are so few known risk factors for childhood cancers, there is limited information available about effective strategies to prevent these cancers.

 

Last updated May 2019. Updates are made when data become available.