Incidence of cancer in children in the United States. Sex-, race-, and 1-year age-specific rates by histologic type


  • James G. Gurney Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Michigan Cancer Foundation, Division of Epidemiology, Detroit Michigan
    2. Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Cancer Institute and Department of Family Medicine, Detroit, Michigan
    • Michigan Cancer Foundation, Division of Epidemiology, 110 East Warren Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
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  • Richard K. Severson Ph.D.,

    1. Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine, Detroit, Michigan
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  • Scott Davis Ph.D.,

    1. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Division of Public Health Sciences, Program in Epidemiology, Seattle, Washington
    2. University of Washington, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Department of Epidemiology, Seattle, Washington
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  • Leslie L. Robison Ph.D.

    1. University of Minnesota, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Background. Rates of cancer in children usually are presented in 5-year age groups, despite large variations of incidence within these groups. The purpose of this report is to provide histology-specific incidence rates within single-year age groups, stratified by sex and race, among children.

Methods. Data from the National Cancer Institute's SEER Program were used to calculate incidence rates among children younger than 15 years of age at diagnosis. The SEER population denominator file was modified to allow calculation of rates within single years of age.

Results. Large differences in rates within 5-year age groups were found for many histologic types. Retinobiastoma and Wilms' tumor, for instance, had up to eight-fold differences. Substantial differences also were observed for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, neuroblastoma, Hodgkin's disease, acute lymphoid leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and osteosarcoma. In general, rates were higher among males than females, although female rates were often higher among young children. Rates of white children were generally higher than those of black children, especially during the first 5 years of life. Embryonal tumors comprised the majority of neoplasms during the first 2 years of life.

Conclusion. Important demographic patterns of cancer incidence in children are obscured when data are summarized into 5-year age groups. Cancer 1995;75:2186–95.