Background: The etiology of most pediatric neoplasms remains elusive. Examination of population-based incidence data provides insight regarding etiology among various demographic groups and may result in new hypotheses. The objective of the current study was to present updated information regarding childhood cancer incidence and trends in the U.S. overall and among demographic subgroups, including Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics, for whom to the authors' knowledge trends have not been previously examined.
Methods: Data obtained by 13 registries of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program were evaluated to assess incidence and trends of common primary cancers diagnosed between 1992 and 2004 among children aged birth to 19 years. Frequencies, age-adjusted incidence rates, and joinpoint regression results, including annual percent change (APC) in incidence rates (and 95% confidence intervals [95% CI]), were calculated.
Results: Between 1992 and 2004, a modest, nonsignificant increase in the average annual incidence rate (APC, 0.4%; 95% CI, -0.1%-0.8%) was observed for all pediatric cancer diagnoses combined. There was a suggestion of an increase in leukemia (APC, 0.7%; 95% CI, -0.1%-1.5%), and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in particular (APC, 0.8%; 95% CI, -0.4%-1.9%), whereas rates for central nervous system tumors overall were stable (APC, -0.1%; 95% CI, -1.1%-1.0%); 2 joinpoints were observed for astrocytoma. Rate increases were noted for hepatoblastoma (APC, 4.3%; 95% CI, 0.2%-8.7%) and melanoma (APC, 2.8%; 95% CI, 0.5%-5.1%). Differences by demographic group (sex, age, and race/ethnicity) are also described.
Conclusions: The observed trends reinforce an ongoing need for population-based surveillance and further etiologic studies.