Mortality from childhood leukemia has declined substantially in developed countries but less markedly in the developing world. This study was designed to describe mortality trends in childhood leukemia and the impact of social inequalities on these trends in Brazil from 1980 to 2002.
Cancer mortality data by cause and estimates of resident population stratified by age and sex were obtained from the Brazilian Mortality Information System (SIM) for the years 1980 to 2002. Age-standardized (ages 0-19 years) mortality rates were calculated by the direct method using the 1960 world standard population. Trends were modeled using linear regression with 3-year moving average rates as the dependent variable and with the midpoint of the calendar year interval (1991) as the independent variable. The Index of Social Exclusion was used to classify the 27 Brazilian states. Pearson correlation was used to describe the correlation between social exclusion and variations in mortality in each state.
Age-standardized mortality rates for boys decreased from 2.05 per 100,000 habitants in 1984 to 1.44 100,000 habitants in 1995, whereas the observed corresponding decline among girls was from 1.60 per 100,000 habitants in 1986 to 1.14 per 100,000 habitants in 1995. Statistically significant declining trends in mortality rates were observed for boys (adjusted correlation coefficient [r2] = 0.68; P < .001) and girls (adjusted r2 = 0.62; P < .001). Significant negative correlations between social inequality and changes in mortality were noted for boys (r = −0.66; P = .001) and for girls (r = −0.78; P < .001).
A consistent decrease in mortality rates from childhood leukemia was noted in Brazil. Higher decreases in mortality were observed in more developed states, possibly reflecting better health care. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.