Neuroblastoma among children in Southern and Eastern European cancer registries: Variations in incidence and temporal trends compared to US

Int J Cancer. 2018 May 15;142(10):1977-1985. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31222. Epub 2017 Dec 29.


Neuroblastoma comprises the most common neoplasm during infancy (first year of life). Our study describes incidence of neuroblastoma in Southern-Eastern Europe (SEE), including - for the first time - the Nationwide Registry for Childhood Hematological Malignancies and Solid Tumors (NARECHEM-ST)/Greece, compared to the US population, while controlling for human development index (HDI). Age-adjusted incidence rates (AIR) were calculated for 1,859 childhood (0-14 years) neuroblastoma cases, retrieved from 13 collaborating SEE registries (1990-2016), and were compared to those of SEER/US (N = 3,166; 1990-2012); temporal trends were assessed using Poisson regression and Joinpoint analyses. The overall AIR was significantly lower in SEE (10.1/million) compared to SEER (11.7 per million); the difference was maximum during infancy (43.7 vs. 53.3 per million, respectively), when approximately one-third of cases were diagnosed. Incidence rates of neuroblastoma at ages <1 and 1-4 years were positively associated with HDI, whereas lower median age at diagnosis was correlated with higher overall AIR. Distribution of primary site and histology was similar in SEE and SEER. Neuroblastoma was slightly more common among males compared to females (male-to-female ratio: 1.1), mainly among SEE infants. Incidence trends decreased in infants in Slovenia, Cyprus and SEER and increased in Ukraine and Belarus. The lower incidence in SEE compared to SEER, especially in infants living in low HDI countries possibly indicates a lower level of overdiagnosis in SEE. Hence, increases in incidence rates in infancy noted in some subpopulations should be carefully monitored to avoid the unnecessary costs health impacts of tumors that could potentially spontaneously regress.

Keywords: children; incidence; neuroblastoma; overdiagnosis; time trends.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Europe, Eastern / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neuroblastoma / epidemiology*
  • Registries
  • SEER Program
  • United States / epidemiology