Rising Cancer Rates in Children and Potential Causes

Rising Cancer Rates in ChildrenChildhood cancer accounts for only 1 percent of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States. Unfortunately, this number has been rising of late, even as adult cancer rates have declined.
Troubling Statistics
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there has been a substantial increase in childhood cancers over the past few decades. In fact, the overall rate has increased 27 percent since 1975 in kids under the age of 19. Interestingly, during this same period overall adult cancer rates have fallen, leading many experts to question the reason for the discrepancy.
Which Types of Cancer Are Most Common?
While the overall rate of childhood cancer has risen, much of the increase appears to be driven by an increase in leukemia, which has jumped almost 35 percent since 1975. While leukemia is the most common cancer in children, it isn’t the only type to see an increase. Soft tissue cancers which develop in the muscles and bones have risen nearly 42 percent, while Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is up 34 percent.
What Is the Cause?
According to experts, increased childhood cancer rates likely stem from environmental factors. Over the past four decades, the environment has changed significantly, with more and more chemicals entering the air and water. Combined with genetic traits, this appears to have spurred a sharp increase in a variety of childhood cancers, even while adult cancer rates continue to decline.
Cause for Concern?
While increased cancer rates are apt to stir concern among parents, some experts believe the statistics could be misleading. Thanks to enhanced technology, doctors are better able to detect cancer, and some believe these enhanced tests are partly responsible for increased positive diagnoses. At the same time, the 5-year survival rates for childhood cancer have improved considerably over the years, and are now at over 80 percent.
Still, researchers are calling for increased funding to help identify the exact reasons for increased cancer rates in children. They also recommend that parents do their best to limit their kids’ exposure to pesticides, cigarette smoke and other known environmental toxins, which could increase a child’s cancer risk.

Health News + Events

What to Expect With COVID-19 & Back-to-School Protocols

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in early 2020, it turned life upside down for more than 50 million school-age children across the country. In fact, according to Ed  Read More

TikTok Health Hacks: Safe or Sham?

No matter your preferred social media channel, you’ve likely seen viral health hacks for everything from congestion to snoring to weight loss. We turned to our team of certified  Read More

How to Treat a Dog Bite

Dogs are undoubtedly man’s best friend, but even the friendliest of creatures can sometimes get spooked or display aggressive behavior. Bites can even happen when giving an excit  Read More

What Our Patients Are Saying

Rating 4.6
Rating 4.2
Rating 4.6
Rating 5.0

"The overall care I received was excellent! I also appreciate your affiliation with Yale New Haven Hospital."

Derby, CT

"Throughout the visit I felt like the staff really cared. The Doctor took his time talking with me about my symptoms, and I felt like he listened to all my concerns and took that into consideration when recommending the right treatment. Thank you!"

Hamden, CT

"I had to take my son in for an ear infection following a sudden change in temperament at daycare. He was inconsolable the entire car ride but when we got there and by the time we left this care facility he was back to his normal happy go lucky little two year old boy. I highly recommend PhysicianOne Urgent Care."

Westwood, MA

"I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the attention you gave me last week. My son was started on antibiotics and ear drops. Within 24 hours he began to feel better. The poor kid had been going to school in tears because he was afraid of missing any more days, but feeling (and looking) just awful! He's not been able to even think about lacrosse practice, but thanks to starting him on antibiotics, he was thrilled to return to practice today."

Somers, NY